One day before what many say will be an historic election; CNBC appears to finally be embracing one of the most famous moments in the network’s history: A Feb. 19, 2009 “rant heard around the world” by CME Group floor reporter Rick Santelli, which is credited by many for igniting the Tea Party movement.
Throughout the day on Nov. 1, CNBC aired a 30-second spot encouraging viewers to tune into its network for election night coverage. The promo said to tune to CNBC “when the economy is topic A” and concluded with part of Santelli’s famous rant, “President Obama, are you listening?”
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But over the last year and a half, the network shied away from highlighting its pundits’ anti-Obama administration sentiments. Charles Gasparino, a former CNBC on-air editor and current Fox Business Network senior correspondent, detailed that in his book "Bought and Paid For: The Unholy Alliance Between Barack Obama and Wall Street."
This TV spot was noticed by at least one of the prominent hosts on CNBC. Long-time anchor Joe Kernen pointed it out to Santelli during the Nov. 1 broadcast of “Squawk Box.” He also noted the network’s reluctance to promote that moment to sell the network, almost as if they wished it hadn’t occurred.
“Rick, I don't know if you saw our big – we have a big promo for our political coverage,” Kernen said. “And finally, there you are at the end. I think it's come full circle. We are embracing you now, and your – kind of the role that you played in all this. It's been a long time coming I think. But you're prominently displayed right at the end. It might be the rant, although I couldn't hear it. But, how can you deny it at this point? It's impossible.
CNBC hasn’t backed away from other outrageous moments in its recent history. Jim Cramer’s August 2007 “They’re nuts” meltdown figures prominently in the promo and is played at the opening of “Mad Money” every weeknight. Nonetheless, Santelli, who has admitted in the past he was proud of the moment, downplayed it:
SANTELLI: Well, I'll be sitting next to you tomorrow morning. We'll have a lot of fun things to talk about, Joe.
KERNEN: Yes, we will. But, I guess it's OK to be – you weren't intentionally becoming part of the news, but sometimes in an internet world that's going to happen from time to time I think. So –
SANTELLI: Hey, I like doing just what I'm doing with you every morning.
KERNEN: I know.
SANTELLI: That's what I like to do.
KERNEN: Alright, excellent.