Would you believe that Howard Schultz, who is worth $3.4 billion, doesn’t know how much a box of Cheerios costs? Well, believe it! The Starbucks CEO and Independent centrist bad boy was humorlessly stumped by Mika Brzezinski in a rapid-fire round of questioning on this Wednesday’s Morning Joe. Watch:
Since he’s announced his bid as a Presidential candidate, Schultz has stayed true to his centrist values in taking a cue from Starbucks’ rival company, which is to say: He has not stopped getting Dunked on (get it?). As we’ve previously documented, Schultz has been relentlessly mocked on Twitter ever since his “intention to campaign” tweet was ratio’d into oblivion, getting about half as many likes as replies from people across the political spectrum begging him not to run. Many of his concerned repliers fear a wealthy independent candidate’s potential to split a close vote à la Ralph Nader in 2000, while others simply can’t help but deride Schultz for his out-of-touch views, bloated books and/or ruinous ownership of Seattle’s ex-NBA team.
His Morning Joe blunder came during a quick Q&A toward the end of his appearance on the show. First, Brzezinski asks him, “What qualifies you to be President of the United States?” Schultz wastes no time in claiming it isn’t his Starbucks experience, but “what [he] learned along the way” before babbling on about “sharing success” and saying, “I’m on both sides of the equation: I’m somebody who’s successful, and I’m somebody who came from the projects.”
Next, Brzezinski rattles off, “Who is the best Republican President of the last 50 years, and best Dem?” Schultz hits back with the most glorious, aisle-middling one-two punch: Reagan, because he never took his jacket off in the Oval Office (which is patently false—there are pictures of him wearing everything from tracksuits to big-nosed anti-Dukakis masks at the Resolute Desk), and FDR.
Lastly, Brzezinski asks him the easiest question he could’ve expected to face as a billionaire candidate, needing to prove himself a man of the people: “How much does an 18-ounce box of Cheerios cost?” Without even a hint of a smile, Schultz begins deflecting about his cereal-eating habits, stammering a billionaire’s stammer, before Joe Scarborough steps in to defuse the situation with a remark about Count Chocula. “It’s four bucks,” Brzezinski chimes in, knowing her point’s been made.
Schultz’s cereal blooper comes after many a mogul’s confrontation with store prices, and to great amusement: See Bill Gate’s gamified overestimating of Totino’s pizza roll prices on Ellen. Schultz’s biggest mistake here—one that he will keep making—is that he is completely humorless, devoid of amicability. When Gates thinks groceries are five times the price, he does so with a meek, sweatered shrug and a nerdy philanthropist’s grin. Audiences love it. When Schultz is confronted, he gets frustrated and vigorously deflects. He comes across as out-of-touch as he truly is.
Will Schultz gain enough steam to pose a serious threat of splitting the vote in 2020? Let’s hope not. Will he continue to embarrass himself before fading into the obscurity of a massive list of less-alien partisan candidates? Let’s hope so.