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Fox Business News "Punked" by Animal Activist


The creditability and reputation of Maria Bartiromo, Fox Business News anchor, was seriously eroded on December 23rd when she interviewed Matt Johnson of Direct Action Everywhere.  Johnson posed as Dennis Organ, recently appointed CEO of Smithfield Foods.  Ms. Bartiromo was obliged to apologize subsequently on air when the ruse was disclosed.


Although appearing slightly medicated, wearing a smirk and with a halting delivery of a monotone diatribe, Johnson actually presented a fairly bland case for Smithfield Foods. Given the opportunity, he could have done a lot more reputational damage to both Smithfield Foods and the meat industry during the false interview. The fact that Smithfield Foods is a fully-owned subsidiary of the WH Group is well known and there has never been an attempt to conceal ownership by the parent company domiciled in China with operations worldwide. Johnson/Organ did emphasize the problem of in-plant transmission of COVID-19 and the need for vaccination of packing plant workers.


This episode that could be regarded as mildly humorous illustrates the defects in the Fox Business system of selecting and verifying guests on their program.  It was patently obvious that Bartiromo was totally unprepared for the interview with few pertinent questions and an abysmal lack of background. Simply reviewing the CV of Dennis Organ would have revealed that Johnson was not whom he claimed to be.  Bartiromo was led down a rabbit hole with African swine fever that she repeatedly mischaracterized as ‘African swine flu’.


The lesson from this episode is that animal activists including Direct Action Everywhere will do all in their power to discredit intensive livestock production.  They recognize the impact of media and have for many years leveraged the internet to their cause.  The Johnson caper appears to be their first foray into cable news and should be a warning to producers.


Fox Business TV owes more than the simple apology offered by Bartiromo. The results of the   investigation on how Johnson was able to invite himself onto Mornings with Maria should be disclosed to their constituency.  At the very least, Dennis Organ, the real CEO of Smithfield Foods should be given an opportunity to make a case for his company and the industry. Alternatively Matt Johnson is still available!