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Furious CNBC editor Rick Santelli shouts at fellow host Andrew Ross Sorkin

Two panelists on the cable financial news channel CNBC engaged in a heated debate on Friday morning over coronavirus lockdown measures that have imposed restrictions on businesses.

Rick Santelli, a CNBC on-air editor who frequently appears on the network from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, angrily hit back at commentator Andrew Ross Sorkin for saying that wearing masks are backed up by science.

Sorkin accused Santelli of doing a ‘disservice to the viewer’ by suggesting that restrictions on indoor dining at restaurants should be lifted. 

‘You’re doing a disservice to the viewer! You are. You are,’ Santelli replied.

‘I’m sorry, I would like to keep our viewers as healthy as humanly possible,’ Sorkin responded.

‘The idea of packing people in restaurants…’ Sorkin said, before Santelli cut in.

‘I think our viewers are smart enough to make part of those decisions on their own,’ Santelli said. 

Viewers of the financial news channel CNBC watched a heated exchange on Friday morning between panelists Andrew Ross Sorkin (left) and Rick Santelli (right)

Sorkin accused Santelli of 'doing a disservice to viewers' by arguing against coronavirus lockdown measures that have placed severe restrictions on restaurants

Sorkin accused Santelli of ‘doing a disservice to viewers’ by arguing against coronavirus lockdown measures that have placed severe restrictions on restaurants

‘Five hundred people in a mall aren’t any safer than 150 people in a restaurant that holds 600,' Santelli (left) said. ‘I don’t believe it. Sorry, I don’t believe it.'

‘Five hundred people in a mall aren’t any safer than 150 people in a restaurant that holds 600,’ Santelli (left) said. ‘I don’t believe it. Sorry, I don’t believe it.’

‘I’m sorry, I would like to keep our viewers as healthy as humanly possible,’ Sorkin responded. ‘The idea of packing people in restaurants…’ Sorkin said, before Santelli cut in. ‘I think our viewers are smart enough to make part of those decisions on their own,’ Santelli said.

‘I’m sorry, I would like to keep our viewers as healthy as humanly possible,’ Sorkin responded. ‘The idea of packing people in restaurants…’ Sorkin said, before Santelli cut in. ‘I think our viewers are smart enough to make part of those decisions on their own,’ Santelli said.

The segment started when Santelli blasted governors in several states for forcing restaurants to shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic while allowing brick-and-mortar stores to remain open.

Santelli, who made headlines earlier this year when he suggested that the public should intentionally infect itself with COVID-19 in order to minimize damage to the economy, spoke during a panel discussion with five others about possible new lockdowns in the face of surging case numbers nationwide.

He took several governors to task for ‘cheating’ during the lockdown by dining out with large groups of people.

Presumably he was referring to California Governor Gavin Newsom, who was spotted last month dining with 11 others in a restaurant indoors while not wearing masks.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo came under fire after he planned a Thanksgiving dinner with family – only to reverse himself when he came under criticism for urging citizens not to make holiday plans with others.

‘When I point out governors cheating, it’s not for the hypocrisy, which definitely exists,’ Santelli said on Friday.

‘It’s the fact that many of these governors are intelligent people and they love their families, which they’ve taken out into restaurants.’

Santelli said this was reason to have an ‘ongoing debate as to why a parking lot for a big box store like by my house is jam-packed – not one parking spot open…Why are those people any safer than [diners in] a restaurant with plexiglass?’

He added: ‘I just don’t get it.’

Santelli said that such a debate could perhaps lead to ‘service sector employees coming back [to work] in a safer way.’

He becomes increasingly animated, saying: ‘You can’t tell me that shutting down, which is the easiest answer, is necessarily the only answer.’

Santelli’s comments prompted Sorkin to push back on the suggestion that restrictions on restaurants should be lifted.

‘Rick, just as a public health and public service announcement for the audience, the difference between a big box retailer…’ Sorkin said as Santelli cut him off.

‘Who is this?’ Santelli asked.

Tens of millions of people in the service sector have been laid off during the pandemic as states imposed restrictions on in-person dining indoors. The image above shows a customer receiving his takeout order from a Los Angeles restaurant on Tuesday

Tens of millions of people in the service sector have been laid off during the pandemic as states imposed restrictions on in-person dining indoors. The image above shows a customer receiving his takeout order from a Los Angeles restaurant on Tuesday

Sorkin, who is also a New York Times financial columnist, tried to get a word in and held out his hand in an attempt to quiet Santelli.

‘The difference between a big box retailer, and a restaurant or frankly even a church, are so different it’s unbelievable,’ Sorkin said.

While Sorkin was speaking, Santelli demonstrably nodded his head and crossed his arms in front of his chest, looking visibly agitated.

Santelli then erupted: ‘I disagree, I disagree. I disagree. You can have your thoughts, and I can have mine.’

To which Sorkin replied: ‘You’re required to wear a mask. It’s science. I’m sorry, it’s science.’

Santelli then responded: ‘It’s not science.

‘Five hundred people in a mall aren’t any safer than 150 people in a restaurant that holds 600.

‘I don’t believe it. Sorry, I don’t believe it.

‘And I live in an area where there are a lot of restaurants that have fought back and they don’t have any problems and they’re open.’

The tense back-and-forth continued, with Sorkin accusing Santelli of harming public health.

‘Well you don’t have to believe it, but you’re doing a disservice to the viewer,’ Sorkin responded.

Santelli is no stranger to controversy. During a March 6 broadcast, he said that the world would be better off if everyone got coronavirus so that we could 'get it over' and stop wreaking havoc on the markets. Santelli later apologized for the remarks

Santelli is no stranger to controversy. During a March 6 broadcast, he said that the world would be better off if everyone got coronavirus so that we could ‘get it over’ and stop wreaking havoc on the markets. Santelli later apologized for the remarks

Santelli was slammed for his 'insensitive' and 'evil' outlook on the deadly global epidemic

Santelli was slammed for his ‘insensitive’ and ‘evil’ outlook on the deadly global epidemic

Santelli then said, ‘You’re doing a disservice to the viewer. You are. You are.’

‘I’m sorry, I would like to keep our viewers as healthy as humanly possible,’ Sorkin responded.

‘The idea of packing people in restaurants…’ Sorkin said, before Santelli cut in.

‘I think our viewers are smart enough to make part of those decisions on their own,’ Santelli said.

Another CNBC panelist, Steve Liesman, then asked Santelli: ‘How’s that working out for you Rick, look at the numbers.’

To which Santelli replied: ‘It’s working out fine, Rick. It’s working out fine.’ 

Santelli said that while the COVID-19 pandemic was causing death and was a ‘horrible thing,’ he added: ‘I just think the way we deal with it isn’t optimal.’ 

Finally, anchor Melissa Lee urges the guests to agree to disagree.

‘I think if we spent the rest of the show talking about this there would be no agreement, so let’s move on,’ she said. 

Santelli is a resident of Wayne, Illinois, a suburb located about 35 miles west of Chicago.

In 2015, Santelli paid $730,000 for a five-bedroom, 5,500sqft home in Wayne, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The 3-acre property has 4.5 baths and an attached four-car heated garage, according to the Tribune.

Santelli has made controversial statements about the COVID-19 pandemic in the past.

Earlier this year, he apologized for going on air and speculating that ‘maybe we’d be better off’ if everyone became infected with the coronavirus in order to spare the economy of the damage that lockdown measures would cause.

During a March 6 broadcast, Santelli was being asked about the markets, which nosedived in the early days of the pandemic.

Speaking as the Dow Jones fell by some 900 points that morning, Santelli was asked what had prompted the markets to go downturn and replied: ‘The catalyst? Just watch your local news. There’s your catalyst. 

‘All I know is, think about how the world would be if you tried to quarantine everybody because of the generic-type flu. 

‘Now I’m not saying this is the generic-type flu,’ he said, adding that he was ‘not a doctor’. 

‘But maybe we’d be just better off if we gave it to everybody and then in a month, it would be over because the mortality rate of this probably isn’t going to be any different if we did it that way than the long-term picture, but the difference is we’re wreaking havoc on global and domestic economies,’ he said.

Santelli was slammed on social media for the comments, prompting him to walk them back.

‘It was just a stupid thing to say,’ he said. 

‘It is not appropriate in this instance, and we are resilient, both in the United States and in the globe, and that resilience will get us through. 

‘The idea of something so absurd, I just apologize, and I apologize to everyone on this segment and all my peers at CNBC. 

‘We will get through this. We are resilient. 

‘But even if one life is affected, I do apologize for my insensitivity.’ 

As of Friday, the coronavirus is blamed for more than 275,000 deaths and 14 million confirmed infections nationwide. 

The U.S. recorded 3,157 deaths on Wednesday alone, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. 

That’s more than the number of people killed on 9/11 and shattered the old mark of 2,603, set on April 15, when the New York metropolitan area was the epicenter of the US outbreak. 

The mitigation measures imposed by some states have had a devastating effect on the economy, as nonessential businesses like retail stores and restaurants were initially shut down.

Since reopening, they have been forced to dramatically curb capacity as the number of virus cases continue to rise. 


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