Joe Kernen
Source: Getty Images

Joe Kernen’s COVID-19 Argument With Andrew Ross Sorkin Made for Explosive TV

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Apr. 22 2022, Published 1:29 p.m. ET

CNBC anchor Joe Kernen, a TV personality with a reported eight-figure net worth, went from reporting the news to becoming the news at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. He and fellow Squawk Box co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin lost their cool with one another while discussing the death toll of the pandemic.

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At least Kernen met his stated goal of not making business news and economic news “like watching paint dry.” Here’s more about the CNBC anchor and his career so far…

Kernen was a scientist and a stockbroker before his time at CNBC.

According to Kernen’s CNBC bio, he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado — in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology — and a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — studying mouse erythroleukemia cells at the MIT Center for Cancer Research. Later, he spent a decade as a stockbroker and became the vice-president at EF Hutton and Smith Barney.

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Joe Kernen
Source: David Grogan/CNBC

The Cincinnati native joined the now-defunct Financial News Network as a writer in 1991 and joined his current employer the following year, when CNBC acquired FNN. And when Squawk Box launched in 1995, Kernen was one of the first co-hosts.

In a 2015 interview with the Cincinnati Business Courier, Kernen said that the “importance and relevance of business news and economic news” had only increased during his years in the business.

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“There are times I can’t imagine anyone watching anything else in the morning. You can only watch so many recipes and general news. The ability to succeed, help your family live better lives and send your kids to the best schools is all tied to business and the economy,” he said. “You try to make it not just understandable but also not like watching paint dry.”

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Kernen has a net worth of $16 million.

Joe Kernen

Co-host of CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’

Net worth: $16 million (reported)

Joe Kernen is a former stockbroker and FNN writer who is now the co-host of CNBC’s Squawk Box.

Net worth: $16 million (reported)

Birthdate: January 6, 1956

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Education: Bachelor’s degree from the University of Boulder Colorado, master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Spouses: Penelope Kernen (m. 1998)

Children: 2

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Joe Kernen has cast controversial opinions about COVID-19 and climate change.

In 2020, Kernen got into a shouting match with Squawk Box cohost Sorkin, whom he accused of being “panicked” about the impact of COVID-19.

“You panicked about the market, panicked about COVID, panicked about the ventilators, panicked about the PPE, panicked about ever going out again, panicked if we’d ever get back to normal.”

But Sorkin shot back that Kernen “didn’t panic about anything.”

“100,000 people died, Joe, and all you did was try to help your friend the president [Donald Trump],” Sorkin added. “That’s what you did. Every single morning on this show. Every single morning on this show, you have used and abused your position, Joe.”

Before segueing to another segment, Kernen said the COVID-19 death toll was “terrible” but contended “it was never going to be that we weren’t going to come back and return to normal.” He also said that he wasn’t “trying to help Donald Trump.”

In 2017, Kernen argued with Twitter users over climate change, calling it a “phantom menace, at best” and “at worst a socialist, global wealth redistribution scheme,” according to Mediaite. (He previously talked about such Twitter debates on CNBC, calling the “enviro-socialists” with whom he interacts on social media “a bona fide cult.”)

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