A panelist on a CNBC current affairs show accidentally outed Apple CEO Tim Cook live on-air this morning, to the embarrassment of his co-hosts.
Simon Hobbs was one of several co-hosts when New York Times columnist Jim Stewart appeared on CNBC’s Friday edition of Squawk on the Street to talk about an article he’s written that explores the dearth of openly gay CEOs.
Speaking about how former CEO of BP John Browne became the first person ever at a Fortune 500 company to publicly acknowledge that he’s gay, Stewart said there’s a ‘corporate culture that prevents powerful gay men from going public.’
‘You’d think CEOs especially are measured by objective criteria, financial performance,’ Stewart said.
He went on to say that he’d reached out for a comment to a number of CEOs for his story and received a ‘very cool reception.’
That’s when co-host Simon Hobbs piped up, saying, ‘I think Tim Cook is fairly open about the fact he’s gay at the head of Apple, isn’t he?’
For a moment, a deafening silence filled the studio as the hosts look awkardly from one to the other before Stewart, shaking his head in disapproval, responds with a succinct, ‘No.’
Hobbs tried to recover, ‘Oh, dear, was that an error? I thought he was open about it.’