Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo told her viewers that she was punk’d, after being duped into interviewing an animal rights activist masquerading as the CEO of a food-processing company for her show on Wednesday.
During the segment on “Mornings with Maria Bartiromo,” the anchor presented the impersonator as Dennis Organ, the CEO of the pork producer and food-processing company Smithfield Foods.
But unbeknownst to her, Bartiromo was actually speaking to animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere activist Matt Johnson who did not break from character during the six-minutes-long interview, as he spoke of the process of coronavirus vaccines being distributed to food workers at the company.
Posing as the CEO of Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods, a self-proclaimed world’s largest pork producer, Johnson took a dig at the company as posing a “serious threat in bringing about the next pandemic.”
“In addition to the outbreaks that are happening at our plants, our industry poses a serious threat in effectively bringing on the next pandemic,” he said.
“It appears we have been punk’d,” admitted the anchor later as she called out the hoax. “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. He is someone who has absolutely no relation to Smithfield Foods,” said the anchor adding that they will be more vigilant in the future.
However, lambasting at the error on part of the news outlet, Smithfield’s chief administrative officer Keira Lombardo told USA Today, that a “simple Google search for a photo” of the company’s CEO could have prevented this from happening. “The statements that were aired are absolutely and completely false,” she said.
In a press release, Direct Action Everywhere, said the stunt was part of the group’s “No More Factory Farms” campaign, which aims to push government officials to “proactively prevent future pandemic outbreaks by introducing a moratorium prohibiting the construction of new factory farms and slaughterhouses.”