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CNBC host accidently outs Apple CEO as gay on international TV

CEO Tim Cook
CEO Tim Cook
Getty Images

CNBCs' segment “Squawk on the Street” got a little too squawky today when things took a turn for the awkward and mortifying when one of the show's co-hosts accidentally let it slip that Apple CEO Tim Cook, who is not entirely comfortable being open about his sexuality at the moment and preferred to keep it his own business, is gay. The show was in the middle of an interview with New York Times columnist James R. Stewart about his recent column on former BP CEO, John Browne who is himself gay and resigned from his prestigious position after being outed by a British tabloid that published a story about him from a former lover.

In the midst of the interview with Stewart right after he mentions that none of the gay CEOs he spoke to wished to be named or identified as gay in his column, CNBC host Simon Hobbs commented “I think Tim Cook is open about the fact he's gay at the head of Apple, isn't he?” No, Simon. No he isn't. The comment leaves Hobbs' colleagues completely quiet on the air. Realizing that he's made some kind of mistake Hobbs quickly back-peddles and adds “Oh dear, was that error?” and states that he thought Cook was open about his sexual orientation. The stunned silence last a few more moments before Stewart answers with a shake of his head and a very clear “No.”

Continuing to dig his own grave, Hobbs explicitly says that he doesn't want to out anybody but its far too late to reverse what he'd already said on international television. Apple CEO Tim Cook has yet to make any statements of his own about his orientation. He speaks very freely as a strong supporter of LGBT rights and views orientation equality as a human rights issue. Cook was even named ad Out Magazine's most powerful LGBT person of 2013.

While neither CNBC nor Apple has made any comments about the outing yet, we can only hope that Cook won't feel pressured to leave his position as CEO due to his sexuality.