It might be Christmas week, but it sure felt more like April Fool’s Day on Fox Business’s “Mornings with Maria” show on Wednesday.
Maria Bartiromo thought she was interviewing CEO Dennis Organ of food processing giant Smithfield Foods, when she was actually getting duped by Matt Johnson, an animal rights activist for Direct Action Everywhere. “We have been punk’d,” she admitted later.
Johnson never broke from character during the lengthy interview in which he vowed that “the first change under my leadership is transparency and at times brutal honesty.”
He went on to make a point one wouldn’t necessarily expect to hear from an executive in charge of running what’s billed to be the world’s biggest pork producer.
“The truth is that our industry, in addition to the outbreaks that are happening at our plants, poses a serious threat in effectively bringing on the next pandemic, with CDC data showing that three of four infectious diseases come from animals and the conditions inside of our of farms can sometimes be Petri dishes for new diseases,” he said.
Johnson also pledged, on behalf of Smithfield, “half a billion dollars a year starting in 2021” to mitigate the environmental impacts of the meat industry.
Watch the full segment and the correction:
Johnson later told The Wrap he and his group “put feelers out there elsewhere, strategically” in an attempt to land a TV interview, but were rejected by “several” shows. He said the ruse “involved fake email addresses and fake phone numbers and lots of pitches.”