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WATCH: It Gets Awkward on CNBC as Apple's Tim Cook Called Openly Gay

WATCH: It Gets Awkward on CNBC as Apple's Tim Cook Called Openly Gay


Apple CEO Tim Cook was once again the center of speculation -- this time, on CNBC.

With the former CEO of BP coming out, folks are all of a sudden noticing the dearth of openly gay business leaders. During a discussion about that very point today on CNBC, Apple CEO Tim Cook's name awkwardly came up.

"I think Tim Cook is fairly open about the fact that he's gay at the head of Apple, isn't he?" said Squawk on the Street cohost Simon Hobbs, stunning his fellow panelists into silence. "Oh, dear, was that an error? I thought he was open about it."

New York Times columnist James Stewart was on as a guest to discuss the coming out of former BP CEO John Browne, who just published The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out Is Good Business. Stewart notes that Browne is now the first person ever to run a Fortune 500 company to also publicly acknowledge he's gay. Stewart said his reporting shows there are of course gay CEOs, but that none would go on record when he recently contacted them.

This isn't the first time Cook has been at the center of this debate publicly. When he was first named as Steve Jobs's successor, journalists argued with each other over whether Cook's sexual orientation is relevant.

Out magazine has for several years included Cook in its annual Power 50 list, calling him "the most powerful gay man in corporate America."And Cook was first outed in 2011 by Valleywag, which cited anonymous sources who said Cook's orientation was widely discussed at Apple. For his part, Cook has never said publicly whether he's gay.

Instead, Cook has added his voice to the debate about workplace discrimination and the need for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, penning op-eds in favor of the legislation and calling on Congress to pass it.

Watch the moment from CNBC today in the video below:

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