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Rick Santelli Blows Up At Andrew Ross Sorkin Over What Places Are Safer From COVID-19

Wayne Duggan
·2 min read

Tensions between Andrew Ross Sorkin and Rick Santelli boiled over on CNBC’s "Squawk Box" on Friday. The disagreement between Sorkin and Santelli was a reflection of a debate many Americans are having these days about what some see as inconsistencies in pandemic lockdown rules.

What Happened: The argument about closing restaurants while big box retailers remain open broke out after California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new stay-at-home order for California on Thursday that will close bars, hair salons and personal services businesses and restrict restaurants to take out and delivery services only.

"Five hundred people in a Lowe’s aren’t any safer than 150 people in a restaurant that holds 600,” Santelli said. “I don’t believe it. Sorry. Don’t believe it. And I live in an area where there’s a lot of restaurants that have fought back, and they don’t have any problems. And they’re open!”

Sorkin Fires Back: Sorkin responded by accusing Santelli of misinforming CNBC’s viewers.

“You don’t have to believe it, but let me just say this--you’re doing a disservice to the viewer because the viewers need to understand it,” Sorkin said. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’d like to keep the viewers as healthy as humanly possible. The idea of packing people into a restaurant and packing people into a Best Buy are completely different things”

Santelli has been an on-air editor for CNBC since 1999 and reports live from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Sorkin is a financial columnist for the New York Times, author of the book “Too Big To Fail” and co-creator of the Showtime series “Billions.”

“You are doing a disservice to the viewer! You are!” Santelli said in response to Sorkin’s accusations. “I think our viewers are smart enough to make some of those decisions on their own. I don’t think that I’m much smarter than all the viewers, like some people do.”

Related Link: Andrew Ross Sorkin, Joe Kernen Get Into Heated On-Air Argument Over Coronavirus, Trump

Benzinga’s Take: Sorkin and Santelli represented two sides of a very basic philosophical argument about whether the primary responsibility for keeping people safe in America during the pandemic should rest with the government or the individual citizens themselves.

The pandemic is taking a disproportionately large toll on small businesses, such as restaurants and bars. However, COVID-19 cases are spiking to record highs in many areas around the country, including a record 7,854 new cases in Los Angeles County on Thursday.

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