Apple CEO Tim Cook may have been accidentally outed by a CNBC host during a live segment on Friday morning.
“I think Tim Cook is fairly open about the fact that he’s gay at the head of Apple, isn’t he?” Simon Hobbs, the cohost of the segment “Squawk on the Street,” said during an interview with New York Times columnist James Stewart.
Nearly two full seconds of awkward silence followed, until Stewart replied with a very drawn-out “no.”
“Oh dear, was that an error?” Hobbs responded.
Moments earlier, Stewart had said that he had called several gay CEOs at major companies for his column on John Browne, the former CEO of BP who resigned after being outed as gay. “I got an extremely cool reception,” Stewart said about asking gay CEOs to speak on-the-record about the issue. “Not one would allow [themselves] to be named in the column.”
“I don’t want to comment about anybody who might or might not be,” Stewart added. “I’m not going to out anybody.”
Cook has never publicly spoken about his sexual orientation, although several media outlets have said for years that he is gay. The Apple CEO was named the most powerful LGBT person on Out magazine’s 2013 power list, and Gawker said he is “destined to become an icon for gay advancement” in 2011.
CNBC has denied media requests for comment since the segment aired, and Apple has not issued a response.