CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’ Devolves Into Massive Fight Over COVID-19 Lockdowns

Screenshot CNBC, Squawk Box

Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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A contentious fight broke out on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Friday morning over the issue of lockdowns amid COVID-19.

“Squawk Box” began the segment by talking about the labor force numbers, lockdowns, job losses and more amid the global pandemic. CNBC editor Rick Santelli chimed in to suggest that there “should be an ongoing debate as to why a parking lot for a big-box store” is “any safer than a restaurant with plexiglass.”

Co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin immediately pushed back on Santelli’s thoughts, giving viewers “a public health and public service announcement.” (RELATED: The Daily Caller interview with CNBC’s Rick Santelli, ‘father’ of the tea party movement)

“The difference between a big-box retailer and a restaurant, or frankly even a church, are so different it’s unbelievable,” Sorkin said as Santelli repeatedly asked “who is this?”

“I disagree! I disagree! I disagree!” Santelli responded heatedly as Sorkin tried to continue talking. “You can have your thoughts and I can have mine!”

The duo continued to speak over each other, with Sorkin saying “you’re required to wear a mask” and that “it’s science.”


“It’s not science!” Santelli yelled. “500 people at a Lowe’s aren’t any safer than 150 people in a restaurant that holds 600! I don’t believe it! Sorry. Don’t believe it.”

As Santelli continued to yell, Sorkin shook his head and smiled in disbelief. Finally, Sorkin responded by saying that Santelli doesn’t “have to believe it.”

“But let me just say this,” Sorkin added. “You’re doing a disservice to the viewer because the viewers need to understand it …”

Santelli then accused Sorkin of being the person doing a disservice to CNBC’s viewers. The latter quipped that he “would like to keep our viewers as healthy as humanly possible” while Santelli said those watching back at home are “smart enough to make those decisions on their own.” Santelli then suggested that Sorkin believes he is smarter than the people watching CNBC.

“Can I get in here, please, and get back to the jobs report?” a female co-host eventually interjected.

Santelli and Sorkin’s beef marks an ongoing debate about lockdowns. Many have spent time wondering if lockdowns are the right way to handle COVID-19, while others believe strongly in various restrictions put into place by local officials.