Hoo boy: CNBC anchors erupt over Trump, the pandemic, and the stock market

Hoo boy: CNBC anchors erupt over Trump, the pandemic, and the stock market

To cleanse the palate, let me stress again that these guys are co-anchors of the same show on CNBC. We’re all used to ye olde “Democratic talking head versus Republican talking head” shouting matches on cable news but those involve contributors, people drawn from the ranks of political operatives for the specific task of doing partisan combat. Anchors are supposed to be above that. They’re moderators. And of course they’re co-workers, and ideally friends. They’re part of a shared enterprise. Their conflicts stay off-camera.

Except for “The View,” of course. But “The View” doesn’t count because it’s a panel discussion by design. The anchors are essentially permanent contributors, with a secondary duty of asking questions of guests when they come on.

True anchors almost never start swinging at each other on air. I mean, just try to imagine Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade getting into a screaming match over who loves Trump more.

They save that for backstage.

Two things make this clip arresting apart from the sheer spectacle of some personally-tinged nastiness spilling over into public view. One is how comprehensive Joe Kernen’s attack on Andrew Ross Sorkin is. They’re not arguing over a narrow point here. Kernen drags him for a persistent sky-is-falling approach on the coronavirus crisis, from the health implications to the stock market to the economy more broadly. Did he prepare this spiel or has it been bugging him long enough that it just flowed freely from his lips once he uncorked the grievance? Two is the comical extent to which each man looks the respective part he’s assigned here. If I showed you a picture of each and told you that one of these guys is a Trump friend/supporter and one is a critic, you’d know in a moment who’s who, right? Kernen looks every inch the blowsy older uncle who wears a MAGA hat on the golf course while Sorkin is the epitome of the polished liberal yuppie whose copy of the day’s New York Times is never more than a few feet from his reach. (He’s written for the Times for years, in fact.) How these two co-exist off the air, God only knows. Maybe they don’t. Maybe that’s what we’re seeing here.

One fact check on Kernen before you watch, though. I don’t know where he’s getting the idea that the U.S. is way down the list of coronavirus deaths per capita. We’re ninth in the world in that metric among major nations (although practically every nation in western Europe is ahead of us).

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