There was an uncomfortable moment of silence on the CNBC panel during “Squawk on the Street” on Friday.
New York Times columnist and CNBC contributor Jim Stewart was talking about his latest column, “Among Gay CEOs, the Pressure to Conform,” in which he described former B.P. chief executive John Browne’s experience as a closet gay executive.
Stewart said the current corporate culture prevents gay CEOs from coming out in public.
CNBC co-host Simon Hobbs decided to chime in. “I think Tim Cook is fairly open about the fact he’s gay at the head of Apple, isn’t he?” Hobbs asked.
Awkward silence ensued as the panel simply looked at Stewart, who shook his head with a “Hmmm, no.”
“Oh, dear, was that an error?” Hobbs asked. “I thought he was open about it.”
Stewart declined to comment further.
There have long been rumors that Cook is gay, which he has neither confirmed nor denied.