CNBC on-air editor Rick Santelli, who is credited with helping to launch the tea party movement, flew into a rage and stomped off camera on Friday because a supporter of President Obama plans to pay shareholders a dividend before taxes are scheduled to go up at the end of the year.
During a discussion on CNBC’s Squawk Box, senior economic reporter Steve Liesman observed that the government could “extract more from the wealthy and even from business” as a part a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.
Santelli interrupted by pointing to a Wall Street Journal op-ed that criticized former Costco CEO Jim Sinegal because the company he founded intends to pay out dividends before before the Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year.
“He spoke at the Democratic National Convention!” Santelli shouted. “You know, doesn’t that bug you a little bit? It’s very depressing that people that claim the president’s fairness, those wealthy people that he wants to go after? They escape it. They escape it.”
Liesman replied by calling attention to a separate Wall Street Journal op-ed that “has a list of GDP by year and completely leaves out the eight years of the Bush administration.”
“You know what? Don’t give me the switcheroo!” Santelli yelled. “I’m not talking about that one. I’m talking about the one below it, Steve.”
“I’m talking about the one above it,” Liesman taunted. “I’m rising above it.”
“Of course you are because it’s so reprehensible!” Santelli exclaimed. “It’s reprehensible that people go to Charlotte and say, ‘fairness’ and then they run to try to beat the tax man!”
“He’s doing his job,” Liesman noted.
“Shame on them!” Santelli howled as he threw his copy of The Wall Street Journal at the camera. “I can’t even talk about it anymore!”
With that, the on-air editor turned and stormed off the air.
Watch this video from CNBC, broadcast Nov. 30, 2012.