The various platforms under the Fox News umbrella has never exactly been known for its attention to detail, but a recent lapse has taken things to a new level.
In a recent segment of her show, Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo interviewed a man who she thought was the new CEO of pork-processing giant Smithfield Foods, but was actually
animal rights activist Matt Johnson.
The incident happened during a live segment of Bartiromo's show Mornings With Maria last week.
Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo thought she was interviewing the new CEO of Smithfield Foods. Turns out, she d… https://t.co/x2u7MGN8oN— The Recount (@The Recount) 1608757561.0
During the interview, Johnson—who works for animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere—posed as Smithfield CEO Dennis Organ.
During his conversation with Bartiromo told viewers that factory farms like Smithfield's were likely to be sources of future pandemics. Following a question regarding Smithfield's meat-processing plant in South Dakota, which was the locus of a major outbreak early in the pandemic, Johnson called factory farms "petri dishes for new diseases."
While posing as the meat company's CEO, Johnson shared statistics about companies like Smithfield's role in spreading disease.
"The truth is our industry poses a serious threat in bringing on the next pandemic, with 3 in 4 infectious diseases coming from animals."
Johnson also said factory farms like Smithfield's pollute our air and waterways and claimed the company will be spending half a billion dollars a year in mitigating their environmental impact beginning in 2021.
Though Bartiromo does roll her eyes at some of Johnson's comments, at no point does it ever seem to dawn on her that a supposed meat-company CEO is casting a damning portrait of his own industry.
Maria Bartiromo will interview today with ExxonMobil CEO https://t.co/9aSax7mJxn— 🇺🇸 (@🇺🇸) 1608769512.0
By the end of her show, however, Bartiromo had been alerted to the prank.
She issued an apology to her viewership.
"It appears we have been punk'd. Earlier in the program, I interviewed someone claiming to be the CEO of Smithfield Foods, Dennis Organ.
"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."
"We want to apologize to Dennis Organ, Smithfield Foods, and to our audience for making this mistake."
But many on Twitter were not about to let her off the hook.
@MSNBC She has a lot more to apologize for than that.— Johnny Falcon* (@Johnny Falcon*) 1608813125.0
@MSNBC She gave up any right to credibility or, in this case, sympathy the day she went to Fox.— cc724 (@cc724) 1608813361.0
And many others felt the mishap was right on-brand for Fox.
@MSNBC When a news outlet's own lawyers tell the court that a reasonable person would not believe their stories you… https://t.co/eGa3iM8YrF— Karen (@Karen) 1608825928.0
@RamCNN It ain’t called Faux News for nothing.— beta male bot (@beta male bot) 1608820622.0
And, of course, many found the whole thing hilarious.
@RamCNN Did the activist think he'd be talking to a journalist, and got Maria Bartiromo instead?— S 😷💉💉 (@S 😷💉💉) 1608785400.0
Six minutes on Fox as a meat company CEO. Fabulous https://t.co/4SuP0tHsUs— The Yes Men (@The Yes Men) 1608819037.0
LOL She's so dumb! https://t.co/8flpKxF8ju— (((it's DOCTOR, not Ms.))) (@(((it's DOCTOR, not Ms.)))) 1608741633.0
Alright this is funny as hell, but why is no one talking about how the CEO of a major meat company is really named… https://t.co/nHOgoCbV3G— Ryan Mac🙃 (@Ryan Mac🙃) 1608744480.0
At the conclusion of her apology, Bartiromo promised her viewership that she and her team will be "more vigilant" in the future.