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CNBC Anchors Andrew Ross Sorkin and Joe Kernen Spar On-Air Over Coronavirus Death Toll

Variety — Cynthia Littleton

Two anchors of CNBC’s “Squawk Box” had a fiery exchange on Wednesday morning sparked in part by the grim milestone that the nation has surpassed 100,000 deaths due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Andrew Ross Sorkin and Joe Kernen shouted at each other for about a minute in the first hour of the 7-9 a.m. show that is the anchor of CNBC’s daytime lineup. Kernen accused Sorkin of “panicking” about the COVID-19 threat and related issues. Sorkin in response accused Kernen of working to “help” President Donald Trump. The two were live from different locations because of social distancing measures.

“You panicked about the market, you panicked about COVID, you panicked bout the ventilators, you panicked about the PPE, you panicked about ever going out again…,” Kernen said.

Sorkin interjected with clear exasperation: “Joseph, you didn’t panic about anything.”

“What good is that? What good is it,” Kernen responded. Sorkin did not contain his anger as his voice rose in his reply.

“One hundred thousand people died. One hundred thousand people died, Joe, and all you did was try to help your friend the President,” Sorkin said. “Every single morning on this show. You abused your position.”

Kernen asserted that he has only tried to help “investors keep their cool and keep their heads, and as it turned out that’s what they should have done.”

After the heat died down, “Squawk Box” proceeded with its regular lineup that included Sorkin’s interview of incoming AT&T CEO John Stankey to talk up today’s launch of the HBO Max streaming service.

Representatives for CNBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Pictured: Andrew Ross Sorkin, Joe Kernen)

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