Animal rights activist pretended to be CEO of a major food company, deceiving the Fox News presenter on live TV

Anyone who knew what to look for could have seen it.

Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo questioned the CEO of a major food company on Wednesday on her program, “Mornings with Maria”.

He started the interview smiling smugly. He stuttered in the answers. And then he attributed the probable cause of the next pandemic to his own sector.

“Conditions within our farms can sometimes be Petri dishes for new diseases,” said Matt Johnson, animal rights activist and press coordinator for Direct Action Everywhere.

He was impersonating Dennis Organ, the Recently announced CEO of Smithfield Foods, a global food company based in Virginia.

“The statements that were made are absolutely and completely false,” said Keira Lombardo, the company’s managing director, in a statement. “Smithfield is a recognized leader in animal welfare and care, environmental protection and work safety. Smithfield employs veterinarians and other specialists across the company who ensure that the safety, comfort and health of farm animals are comprehensive. ”

The dishonest Fox Business guest on Wednesday temporarily misled the anchor, who later on the show apologized for the confusion.

“We have an important correction to make. It looks like we were punished, ”said Bartiromo, acknowledging that the guest was an imposter. “We want to apologize to Dennis Organ, Smithfield Foods and our audience for making this mistake. Of course, we will be more vigilant. “

In an interview on Thursday, Johnson said he intended to falsely announce that the company would transition from animal farming to offering only plant foods. Instead, he responded to Bartiromo’s questions about the company’s involvement with China.

Lombardo clarified in the statement that Smithfield Foods “does not import food from China”, although its parent company is a publicly traded company based in Hong Kong.

“The statements that were made are absolutely and completely false,” said Lombardo.

Although Johnson did not reveal all the details of how it went on the air – “we do not want to publicly disclose all trade secrets,” he said – the activist used false contact information to bypass the production team.

“Fox Business exhibited a segment that was a complete scam,” said Lombardo in the statement. “A simple Google search for a photo of our CEO would have prevented this from happening.”

Although Johnson said he probably would have done the scene on any TV show, he said his group was targeting Fox News. He cited the recent network decision to display a news package unmasking the previous coverage of its talk show hosts about the voting software company Smartmatic.

Fox News journalists have repeatedly reported that President Trump’s complaints about electoral fraud are not supported, but the network’s talk show hosts have given credit to those complaints in their comments. Smartmatic sent a letter to Fox, claiming that the network helped “a combined disinformation campaign” about the election. The letter led to Fox’s decision to dedicate airtime to verify the facts of the allegations.

Bartiromo recently drawn criticism for providing a platform for Trump and his lawyers to make false claims about election results.