CNBC Host ‘Outs’ Apple CEO Tim Cook as Gay...Things Get Awkwardly Quiet
Things got really awkward during CNBC's Squawk On The Street when one of the show's co-hosts accidentally outed Apple CEO Tim Cook as gay. Cook's alleged sexual orientation has been discussed by many media outlets, but he's yet to publicly acknowledge it.
New York Times columnist James R. Stewart joined the panel to discuss his latest piece profiling John Browne, the former CEO of BP, and his “tortured life” living as the gay chief executive of a Fortune 500 company. “You’d think CEOs especially are measured by objective criteria, financial performance,” Stewart said, and yet there’s a corporate culture that prevents powerful gay men from going public.
“There are gay CEOs in major companies, and I reached out to many of them,” he informed the hosts. “I got an extremely cool reception, not one would allow to be named at all.”
Enter co-host Simon Hobbs: “I think Tim Cook is fairly open about the fact he’s gay at the head of Apple, isn’t he?”
Silence from the panel. Everyone turned to look at Stewart, who responded, “Hmm, no.”
“Oh, dear, was that an error?” Hobbs asked. “I thought he was open about it.”
After shaking his head in disappointment with Hobbs, Stewart said: “I don’t want to comment about anybody who might or might not be. I’m not going to out anybody.”
Despite long-standing assertions that Cook is gay, the CEO has neither publicly confirmed nor denied the fact.
If anything, this just reinforces why it's important for individuals to be open. Many will argue that "it's not a big deal" or "it's not news" that someone's gay, but it continues to be a big deal when one's sexuality is treated as a taboo topic that can't be mentioned.
The silence here was deafening.