CNBC editor Rick Santelli sparked anger after suggesting on live television that “we’d just be better off” if everyone were deliberately infected with the coronavirus “and then in a month it would be over.”
Santelli, speaking about the effect the outbreak was having on global stock markets on Thursday’s broadcast of “The Exchange,” acknowledged “I’m not a doctor, I’m not a doctor” before delivering his proposal:
Think about how the world would be if you tried to quarantine everybody because of the generic-type flu. Now, I’m not saying this is the generic-type flu, but maybe we’d just be better off if we gave it [the coronavirus] to everybody and then in a month it would be over, because the mortality rate of this probably isn’t going to be any different if we did it that way than the long-term picture. But the difference is we’re wreaking havoc on global and domestic economies.
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More than 3,300 deaths worldwide have been attributed to the outbreak, with 12 in the U.S.
Critics on Twitter called on CNBC to fire Santelli, whose 2009 diatribe on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange against President Barack Obama’s proposed bailout for homeowners reportedly inspired the launch of the tea party movement.