“Squawk Box” hosts Andrew Ross Sorkin and Joe Kernen squared off during an explosive segment Wednesday morning.
Kernen claimed that Sorkin had panicked about every little thing throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and Sorkin argued that Kernen had ignored 100,000 dead in order to help President Donald Trump. (RELATED: Stocks Roar Back From Coronavirus Plunge To Biggest Gain Since 2009)
Sorkin began by telling Kernen that his predictions had been wrong as the markets had plummeted, saying, “Joe, Joe. You missed it 100% on the way down and you missed the 100,000 deaths. So, we can have this debate, back and forth, and try to question the questions I’m asking —”
Kernen tried to respond, but Sorkin kept talking over him. “Hold on, hold on. I’m not going do this with you, Joe,” he said. “Every morning, every morning, you try to question the questions I’m asking. These are questions investors are asking every single morning. I’m just trying to get through some of this clutter. I may be right, I may be wrong. Investors may be right, they may be wrong. That’s what makes the market.”
“You yelled at the poor guy about — the guy yesterday with masks was asking why are you yelling at me —” Kernen protested, adding, “You just yelled again.”
Clearly frustrated, Sorkin told Kernen to “go ahead with the news.”
“You panicked about the market, panicked about COVID, panicked about the ventilators, panicked about the PPE, panicked about ever going out again —” Kernen went on.
“Joseph!” Sorkin interrupted again, raising his voice. “Joseph, you didn’t panic about anything. 100,000 people died, Joe.”
“What good is [panic]?”Kernen interjected.
Sorkin then argued that Kernen had taken the position he had in an effort to help President Trump, who has long been arguing for America’s economy to reopen. “Every single morning on this show you abused your position, Joe. You used and abused your position,” he said.
Kernen called the assessment “totally unfair,” explaining that he had simply been advising investors to keep their heads in a turbulent situation and to allow cooler heads to prevail. “As it turned out, that’s what they should have done,” he added.
“You know what Joseph? Do the news. Do the news,” Sorkin repeated.
Kernen fired back, saying that if investors had listened to those who were panicking in the way that Sorkin had, the stock market would be in single digits.
“I wasn’t arguing to go sell your stocks, I was arguing about people’s lives. People’s lives, that’s the argument,” Sorkin shot back again. “Do the news, I’m begging you to do the news, Joseph.”
Kernen took one last shot, pointing out the fact that per capita deaths in the United States were much lower than in other countries — 29 per 100,000 while many countries have seen per capita deaths near 60 per 100,000. Kernen conceded that even 29 was too high, but added that people needed to realize that the country was going to reopen and return to some semblance of “normal” eventually.
“Giving credence to all that panic didn’t help any investors at all, or people with their anxiety and everything else,” Kernen concluded. “That’s not why we are here, not trying to help Donald Trump.”