Flagrant Foul on Mark Haines and Erin Burnett – Their conversation about India’s regard for “sacred cows”

The conversation described in this note took place on Friday, May 16 between Mark Haines and Erin Burnett, co-anchors of the daily “Squawk on the Street” show aired on CNBC from  9 am to 11 am. 

Picture the setting of this conversation. 

Erin Burnett calls Mark Haines from India. She has set a table with a variety of Indian food items, one of which is a Chicken Maharaja burger from McDonalds. Then began the conversation we quote below:

  • Mark Haines: “Did I see a hamburger in front of you?

  • Erin explains “. McDonalds is the biggest seller of beef in the world but they don’t sell any beef in India because most people don’t eat beef,  you know about the sacred cow, right Mark?”

  • Mark Haines: “I would eat it any way

  • Then they talk for a little bit about Pizza Hut in India and Mark offers to fedex her oreo cookies.

  • Then Erin Burnett says  “I was worried about you, I said if you came to India, you might have a problem because the cow is sacred here”

  • Mark Haines:  “I would eat it any way

  • Erin Burnett: ” and the chicken is not sacred here”,

  • Mark Haines: “no, no,”

  • Erin Burnett: “and you are a chicken lover, so, you know, loving of keeping the chickens alive”

  • Mark Haines takes off his glasses, leans back, points both his hands at his chest and says: “Look, If I am hungry, if I am hungry, you don’t want to be a sacred cow walking down the street in front of me; I don’t care if you are a sacred cow…” and leans in to the camera for emphasis.

  • Erin Burnett laughs. Then she starts talking about the traffic mess on Indian roads and says that there are giant cows on the side of the road just sitting there and swishing their tails, She adds there are a couple of cows right out side the Delhi airport.

  • Mark throws his head back, laughs and says ” and painting a billboard that says eat more chickens”. Then he ends the conversation.

If CNBC puts this clip on www.cnbc.com, do watch it and decide whether our description of Mark’s demeanor is correct.

I think this is a flagrant foul by Mark Haines. I include Erin Burnett in this foul because she let Mark’s comments pass without any admonition and actually encouraged Mark, tacitly or otherwise. The video will demonstrate that she kept laughing through out the conversation quoted above. In my judgment, this calls for a flagrant foul on her.

I have watched Mark Haines on CNBC well over ten years. During this long period of time, I have NEVER ever heard Mark Haines make fun of or speak in an insulting manner about any food item that has a special place in any other religion.

But, making fun of Indian sensibilities and threatening to kill and eat a sacred cow in India seems to be a proud and risk less play to Mark Haines. Is this a flagrant foul? You decide!

On behalf of this blog, we formally extend an open invitation to Mark Haines, Erin Burnett and any CNBC official to state their views on this topic. They should send their response to
[email protected] and we will publish it in its entirety. Or they can call us and tell us their side of the story, if any!

This conversation took place from the physical facilities of the New York Stock Exchange and from CNBC-TV 18 studios in India. What do the New York Stock Exchange and TV 18 (India) have to say about this conversation? Is this conversation consistent with their ethical and corporate governance standards?

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