Both have loyal following, but their fans are on opposite sides of the political spectrum.
CNBC’s Rick Santelli rose to prominence earlier this year
railed against President Barack Obama’s policies on live TV from the floor
of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He’s a hit with conservatives staging tea parties to protest the
bailout culture in
Arianna Huffington, who appeared as a guest host on CNBC’s March 31 “Squawk Box” has following of left-wing readers and bloggers, as the editor of the very popular Huffington Post blog. The two faced off on “Squawk Box” about how the housing crisis should be handled. Huffington asked Santelli what his thoughts were on more government assistance for underwater homeowners to prevent another round of foreclosures.
“Well, the whole country is underwater I guess,” Santelli replied. “It’s just a matter of where you want to point the bailout gun. I would certainly like to see some of those mortgage contracts gone through to find out where the erroneous and inaccurate and illegal contracts and separate those from the rest because I think that a lot of the information on the original mortgage contracts is not accurate and I don’t think it would be very fair to put those in the same camp as other foreclosures.”
Huffington pressed Santelli on the handling of banking bailouts versus a housing bailout, while Santelli held to a defense of the free market:
HUFFINGTON: But if it is a question of the value of the house going down through no fault of the owner of the house?
SANTELLI: What do you mean no fault? No fault in what regard?”
HUFFINGTON: Well, in the sense that it was not anything they did through fraud or through …
SANTELLI: Well, who did it?
HUFFINGTON: Well, the market did it – the same way we’re bailing out AIG or Citibank. Who did that, I mean the economic conditions under which we’re living – are responsible for that as well as …
SANTELLI: Did anybody complain when the prices were going up?
HUFFINGTON: But what are you saying? Are you saying you don’t owe any responsibility to homeowners – only to bankers?
SANTELLI: I think we have only one responsibility – we need some good regulation and the best regulation that I think I’ve ever heard is failure. If you take failure out of the system, all other regulations really don’t do very well.
HUFFINGTON: So, should we let some banks fail then?
SANTELLI: Some people should be renters and yes, I think some banks need to fail.
HUFFINGTON: Like Citi – like which bank would you suggest let fail?
SANTELLI: Well, I think anybody that’s insolvent, whether it’s a private firm, a private entity, a family, a bank – that they should all have their constitutional right to fail. It doesn’t mean there can’t be lots of help and some orchestration, as it seems like the Barack administration, Obama administration is working on – I’m for that. Some type of organized bankruptcy and I think many people may need a helping hand, but I don’t think it’s a God-given right that everybody needs to live in a house whether they can afford it or not.
Huffington’s appearance was one of several moves seen by many as CNBC pandering to the left-wing advocacy groups. The network announced March 23 former DNC chairman Howard Dean would officially be a “CNBC contributor.” And Cramer, after referring to Obama’s rhetoric as having heard “Lenin,” changed his tune on Obama on NBC’s March 24 “Today” proclaiming “the president has become pro-shareholder.”