WATCH: CNBC Reporter Who Sparked Creation Of Tea Party Gives Fiery Answer On Virus Restrictions Hurting Small Businesses

On Friday, CNBC’s Squawk Box co-host Andrew Sorkin, who agrees with strong coronavirus restrictions on businesses and restaurants, triggered a fiery response from CNBC’s Rick Santelli, who blasted, “I think our viewers are smart enough to make part of those decisions on their own. I don’t think I’m much smarter than all the viewers, like some people do.”

As CNBC reported, Santelli, who reports from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and famously triggered the creation of the Tea Party in 2009, “suggested that U.S. policymakers should reconsider the balance between public-health restrictions, particularly on restaurants, with permitting more economic activity. He alluded to the recent controversies involving politicians such as Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, who caught heat for attending a birthday dinner for a friend at a posh restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

Santelli stated, “Therefore there is actually, and should be, an ongoing debate as to why a parking lot for a big box store, like by my house, is jam-packed. Not one parking spot open. Why are those people any safer than a restaurant with Plexiglas? I just don’t get it. And I think there’s a million of these questions that could be asked.”

“I think it’s really sad that when we look at the service sector and all the discussions we’ve had about job losses that that particular dynamic isn’t studied more, isn’t worked more, we don’t put more people in a room and try to figure out ways so that these service-sector employees and employers can all come back in a safer way,” he continued. “You can’t tell me that shutting down, which is the easiest answer, is necessarily the only answer.”

Sorkin responded, “Rick, just as a public health and public service announcement for the audience, the difference between a big box retailer —”

Santelli, unsure whom he was speaking to, interjected, “Wait. First of all, who is this? Who is this?”

Sorkin went on, “— the difference between a big box retailer, hold on, the difference between a big box retailer and a restaurant, or frankly, even a church, are so different its unbelievable.”

Santelli replied forcefully, “I disagree. I disagree. … You can have your thoughts, and I can have mine.”

“You’re required to wear a mask. It’s science. I’m sorry. It’s science,” Sorkin insisted. “If you’re wearing a mask, it’s a different story.”

Santelli fired back: “It’s not science. Five hundred people in a Lowe’s aren’t any safer than 150 people in a restaurant that holds 600. I don’t believe it. Sorry, I don’t believe it. Sorry, don’t believe it. And I live in an area where there are a lot of restaurants that have fought back and they don’t have any problems. And they’re open.”

“You don’t have to believe it, but let me just say this—” Sorkin began.

“I don’t. And I won’t,” Santelli countered.

“You’re doing a disservice to the viewer because the viewers need to understand it,” said Sorkin.

Santelli, enraged, responded: “You are doing a disservice to the viewer. You are. You are.”

Sorkin: “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I would like to keep our viewers as healthy as humanly possible. The idea of packing people into restaurants and packing people into a Best Buy are completely different things. They’re different things.”

Santelli, appearing genuinely angry, replied: “I think our viewers are smart enough to make part of those decisions on their own. I don’t think I’m much smarter than all the viewers, like some people do.”

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