For years, the “friendly” riffing between CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin and Joe Kernen had prompted many to ask: do the two popular anchors actually enjoy each other’s company, or is there a Cushing of bad blood built up behind the smiling facades? Who knew that the answer would be revealed during a seemingly innocuous discussion over the market and social impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
During the early morning hours of Squawk Box, just after 6am ET when few CNBC viewers were up, a discussion about the coronavirus demonstrated just how politicized this topic is when it escalated into an all-out screamfest in which Kernen and Sorkin’s obvious distaste for each other finally exploded.
And, providing nearly three minutes of sheer, unscripted entertainment without the cooler head of Becky Quick mediating between the two, the anchors were left to boom and fire shots at each another without interruption.
The exchange begins with Sorkin calling out Kernen’s record of “missing” the market move lower.
“Joe, Joe. You missed it 100% on the way down and you missed 100,000 deaths. We can have this debate back and forth, and you can try to question the questions I’m asking — “
When Kernen tried to cut him off, Sorkin continued:
“Hold on, hold on. I’m not going do this with you, Joe. Every morning, you try to question the questions I’m asking, these are questions that investors are asking every single morning. I’m trying to get through some of this clutter. I may be right, I may be wrong. That makes the market. It doesn’t make people good or bad or right to act the way you are. I’m sorry.”
“You panicked about the market, you panicked about Covid, panicked about the ventilators, panicked about the PPE, panicked about ever going out again,” Kernen said to Sorkin.
That set off Sorkin:
“Joe. You missed it 100% on the way down and you missed 100,000 deaths. We can have this debate back and forth, and you can try to question the questions I’m asking — “
After Kernen interrupted, Sorkin boomed, losing all cool:
“Hold on, hold on, HOLD ON. I’m not going do this with you, Joe. Every morning, you try to question the questions I’m asking, these are questions that investors are asking every single morning. I’m trying to get through some of this clutter. I may be right, I may be wrong. That makes the market. It doesn’t make people good or bad or right to act the way you are. I’m sorry.”
“Joseph, you didn’t panic about anything. A hundred thousand people died, Joe. All you did was try to help your friend the president. That’s what you did. Every single morning on this show. Every single morning on this show you have used and abused your position, Joe. You have used and abused your position!”
“That’s totally unfair. I am trying to help investors keep their cool, keep their heads. And as it turns out, that’s what they should have done,” Kernen responded baiting his so-anchor, and it worked:
“You know what, Joseph? Do the news,” Sorkin said.
“If they had listened to you, we should be at about 8,000,” Kernen sniped back
“I wasn’t arguing about selling stocks, I was arguing about people’s lives. Do the news, I’m begging you.”
“Andrew, it’s a global pandemic, Andy where per capita deaths where we’re down near the low end. Most places are at 60 deaths per 100,000, we’re at 29. It’s terrible that we lost 100,000 lives but it was never going to be that we weren’t going to come back, we weren’t going to return to normal. Siding with Ackman and giving credence to all that panic didn’t help any investors at all. Or people with their anxiety,” Kernen concludes.
You can watch the full exchange here:
Social media, or at least the couple dozen people that tune into CNBC early in the morning for their news, had plenty of takes:
Andrew Sorkin has run out of fucks. pic.twitter.com/NBFNmqvTnx
— Greg Hogben (@MyDaughtersArmy) May 27, 2020
The Sorkin/Kernen dust up reminded me of when the Cleveland Indians started beating the shit out of each other in Major League.
As Harry Doyle said, “At least they’re showing their first signs of life in weeks” over at CNBC
— Quoth the Raven (@QTRResearch) May 27, 2020
It’s about time and well overdue. Kernan is a climate denier and shameless GOP suck up. Report the news. Don’t color it.
— So-called Dave (@DavidWetherell) May 27, 2020
— FightingBack (@FightingbackHD) May 27, 2020
Kernen can be a bit of a bully on Sorkin, nice to see him stand up to him even though he’s wrong.
— EdAsante (@EdAsante77) May 27, 2020
Sorkin is a whiny Karen. Looks awful as usual. Way to go Joe Kernen.
— gma (@illini3) May 27, 2020
— Johnny ☕️ (@johniescoffee) March 27, 2020
CNBC Wow, A. R. Sorkin just had a total melt down on Joe Kernen. Finally some good TV from CNBC. I don’t think Squwawk Box will ever be the same now. lol Apparently Sorkin can’t handle having his ideas or opinions being challenged.
— Flashtrading (@Flashtrading) May 27, 2020
Saw the video of Sorkin v Kernen. No dog in the fight I think CNBC has become garbage, but why is Kernen the bad guy because he tried to do the right thing for INVESTORS — keep them calm during a panic. Isn’t it a show about investing? And wasn’t he right? What am i missing? ??♂️
— OGIndy (@zimdipo) May 27, 2020