Fox News journalist Maria Bartiromo unwittingly turned her morning show into a platform for a cheeky animal rights activist, HuffPost reported.
Bartiromo reportedly told viewers Wednesday morning that she had “been punk’d” after speaking to a man who she thought was the CEO of Smithfield Foods.
Bartiromo falls for prank
Bartiromo was ostensibly interviewing Smithfield’s CEO Dennis Organ about getting the coronavirus vaccine to food workers at the company’s plants. A Smithfield plant in South Dakota was the site of an outbreak this year.
In fact, she was speaking to Matt Johnson of the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere. Johnson used his six minutes to trash “his” company and factory farming.
Bartiromo seemed confused and even rolled her eyes as Johnson went on an activist rant in the guise of his enemy. By the end, Johnson seemed to be faltering as a frowning Bartiromo wrapped things up.
Johnson eased into the prank by saying that Smithfield was taking “extensive” measures to protect its workers, but the mask slipped as he called those steps “insufficient” and went on to call Smithfield’s plants “petri dishes” for future pandemics.
“The truth is that our industry, in addition to the outbreaks that are happening at our plants, our industry poses a serious threat in effectively bringing on the next pandemic, with CDC data showing that three of four infectious diseases come from animals and the conditions inside of our of farms can sometimes be petri dishes for new diseases,” he said, according to Mediaite.
“We have been punk’d”
Later in the show, Bartiromo said, “It appears we have been punk’d.”
“Earlier in the program, I interviewed someone claiming to be the CEO of Smithfield Foods, Dennis Organ,” she said. “We’ve since learned that that was not Dennis Organ, but an imposter making false claims about the company.”
She went on: “He is someone who has absolutely no relation to Smithfield Foods. We want to apologize to Dennis Organ, Smithfield Foods, and to our audience for making this mistake. We will, of course, be more vigilant.”
Johnson told The Wrap that he doesn’t have any remorse about the stunt, which he said “involved fake email addresses and fake phone numbers and lots of pitches.” Smithfield complained that Fox helped spread “false information” about the company by failing to nip the “complete hoax” in the bud.