The man whose 2009 rant over mortgage bailouts – “President Obama, are you listening?!” – unwittingly started the Tea Party movement is back and going off on selective COVID lockdowns.
In an appearance Friday morning, financial reporter Rick Santelli took issue with lockdowns at small businesses that don’t apply to big-box stores.
On a panel on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” a flash of anger erupted between Santelli and co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin. Santelli questioned how people can’t get COVID at a Lowes or Home Depot, but are miraculously put in more danger by going to smaller stores or restaurants while taking the same precautions.
This is how it went.
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RS: You can’t tell me that shutting down, which is the easiest answer, is necessarily the only answer.
AS: Rick, as a public health and public service announcement for the audience, the difference between a big-box retailer and a restaurant or, frankly, even a church are so different it’s unbelievable.
RS: I disagree. I disagree. I disagree! You can have your thoughts and I can have mine.
AS: You’re wearing a mask. You’re required to wear a mask. There’s science, I’m sorry. It’s science. If you’re wearing a mask it’s a different story.
RS: Five hundred people in a Lowes are not any safer than 150 people in a restaurant that holds 600. I don’t believe it. Sorry. Don’t believe it. And I live in an area where there’s a lot of restaurants that have fought back and they don’t have any problems. And they’re open!
AS: You don’t have to believe it. But let me just say this. You’re doing a disservice to the viewer because the viewers need to understand that …
RS: YOU are doing a disservice to the viewer! YOU ARE! You are!
AS: I’m sorry. I’m sorry I would like to keep our viewers are as healthy as humanly possible. The idea of packing people into restaurants and packing—
RS: I think our viewers are smart enough to make part of those decisions on their own.
AS: …people into a Best Buy are completely different things.
RS: I don’t think that I’m much smarter than—
AS: They’re different things.
RS: I don’t think I’m much smarter than all the viewers like some people do.
And there you have it. Two world views. One, Santelli, pragmatic and deferential to the intelligence of the American people, and Sorkin, who apparently believes people aren’t smart enough to control their own lives without government diktats – even irrational ones like opening Best Buy but keeping the local electronics store or restaurant closed. Sorkin couldn’t win the argument and appealed to emotion about how much more he cared about viewers than … who? Santelli. It was insulting and beside the point.
Things escalated quickly on CNBC this morning.
This is fantastic…pic.twitter.com/BMlluNDhE5
— Rex Chapman?? (@RexChapman) December 4, 2020
In one moment, Santelli distilled the issue so all could see the irrationality of selective lockdowns of small businesses while letting the big boys stay open.
Santelli may have just started something again.
Watch Santelli’s 2009 iconic rant that launched the Tea Party.