If you suspected that Maria Bartiromo would be easy to deceive, those assumptions were confirmed on Wednesday morning, when Fox Business anchor spent more than six minutes interviewing an animal rights activist she believed to be the CEO of Smithfield Foods, which calls itself “The largest pork processor and pig producer in the world”.
According Direct action everywhere, activist Matt Johnson managed to get hired on the Bartiromo program as Smithfield Foods’ new CEO and president, Dennis Organ. During the interview, he warned viewers that industrial farms like the ones Smithfield operates could create the next pandemic, without raising suspicions about Bartiromo, who simply moved on with the segment.
Bartiromo began by introducing Johnson as Dennis Organ and asking him about the company’s South Dakota processing plant, which became the country’s worst COVID-19 cluster at the start of the pandemic. In the early stages, he played quite frankly, calling the coronavirus “devastating” for his industry and acknowledging the “heroic” efforts of factory workers – some of whom died of COVID.
But soon, he was taking “responsibility” for the horrible conditions that these workers were forced to endure. Promising “transparency” and “brutal honesty,” he said, “The truth is that our industry, in addition to the outbreaks that are happening in our factories, poses a serious threat to effectively provoke the next pandemic.” He called the company’s farms “Petri dishes for new diseases” and noted that pig farming also “causes immense damage to our air and waterways”.
Even so, Bartiromo did not understand, continuing to call him “Dennis” while asking the man who thought he was Smithfield’s CEO about the company’s relationship with the Chinese conglomerate that bought it recently. On behalf of the company, the activist pledged “half a billion dollars a year from 2021” to mitigate the environmental impacts of the meat industry.
It was all part of the campaign by the protest group “No More Factory Farms”, which “asks government officials to proactively prevent future outbreaks of the pandemic by introducing a moratorium that prohibits the construction of new industrial farms and slaughterhouses”.
At the end of the program, Bartiromo issued a “very important correction”, telling viewers: “It looks like we were punished”. She called the man she interviewed “an impostor” who made “false claims” about Smithfield.