CNBC Host Unwittingly Outs Apple CEO Tim Cook (Video)

Tim Cook

Simon Hobbs incorrectly said the executive was living as an out gay man: "Oh dear. Was that an error?"

A CNBC panel on closeted gay executives fell to awkward silence when one of its members referred to Apple CEO Tim Cook as "openly gay."

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"There are gay CEOs in major companies, and I reached out to many of them," said New York Times columnist James R. Stewart about a recent article. "I got an extremely cool reception. Not one would allow to be named at all."

At that point, Squawk on the Street co-host Simon Hobbs cut in: "I think Tim Cook is fairly open about the fact that he is gay at the head of Apple, isn't he?"

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The panel was silent, and Stewart responded with a terse "No."

"Oh dear. Was that an error?" asked Hobbs.

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Cook has not spoken about his private life, but has consistently supported LGBT rights and was named the most powerful LGBT person on Out's 2013 power list.

CNBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.