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Long-time CNBC host Rick Santelli lambasted politicians for closing down small businesses while allowing large retailers to remain open in a fiery segment on coronavirus-related closures that devolved quickly into an on-air shouting match.
On Friday, Santelli wondered aloud on the left-wing network how it’s any safer to shop in corporate stores than it is to eat indoors where plexiglass is in place. He also lamented about the job losses that result from the statewide lockdowns.
“You can’t tell me that shutting down, which is the easiest answer, is the only answer,” the godfather of the tea-party movement charged.
Fellow colleague and “Squawk Box” co-anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin interjected. “Rick, just as a public-health and public-service announcement for the audience, the difference between a big-box retailer,” Sorkin began before Santelli cut in. “Who is this?” Santelli asked just as an individual off-screen told him repeatedly: “Who else?”
“The difference between a big box retailer and a restaurant or frankly, even a church, are so different it’s unbelievable,” Sorkin finished his thought. “Going into a big-box retailer, you’re wearing a mask.”
With arms crossed and wild gesticulation, Santelli—who once alleged that in order to achieve herd immunity, “we’d be just better off if we gave [COVID-19] to everybody”—fired back: “I disagree! I disagree! I disagree! You can have your thoughts and I can have mine! I disagree!”
Simultaneously, Sorkin argued, deploying the schoolyard talk-to-the-hand tactic: “It’s science. I’m sorry. It’s science. If you’re wearing a mask, it’s a different story.”
“It’s not science! 500 people in a Lowe’s aren’t any safer than 150 people in a restaurant that holds 600,” a red-faced Santelli screamed as Sorkin shook his head. “I don’t believe it! I’m sorry. I don’t believe it. I don’t and I won’t!”
Santelli then noted that he lives in an area where a lot of restaurants that have reopened to fight back against shutdown policies “don’t have any problems.”
“You don’t have to believe it,” Sorkin groused. To which, Santelli quipped: “I don’t.”
Then Sorkin told Santelli that he was doing a “disservice” to their audience, prompting an animated Santelli to charge: “You are doing a disservice to the viewer! You are! You are!”
The shouting match eventually came to a close with Sorkin noting that he just wanted to keep CNBC viewers as “healthy as possible” while Santelli insisted that they “are smart enough to make part of those decisions on their own.”
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I would like to keep our viewers as healthy as humanly possible. The idea of packing people into restaurants and packing people into a Best Buy are completely different things. They’re different things,” Sorkin closed.
Meanwhile, Santelli insisted that the American people “are smart enough to make part of those decisions on their own.”
“I don’t think that I’m much smarter than all the viewers like some people do,” Santelli concluded.