Fox News admits pushing false claim Biden was planning to target hamburgers under climate plan

Bogus claim apparently spread from an article in a British tabloid

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 27 April 2021 07:32 BST
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Fox News admits pushing false claim Biden was planning to curb meat consumption

Fox News anchor John Roberts issued a correction on Fox News, admitting that a graphic displayed by the network led people to believe that Joe Biden's climate plan called for a reduction in red meat.

The announcement exploded among conservatives on social media, who repeated the claim that Mr Biden's plan would result in Americans having to ration their intake to "one hamburger per month."

"A graphic and a script incorrectly implied that it was part of Biden's plan for dealing with climate change. That is not the case," Mr Roberts said.

The claim was widely repeated by conservative commentators, lawmakers and others over the weekend.

"Joe Biden's climate plan includes cutting 90% of red meat from our diets by 2030. They want to limit us to about four pounds a year. Why doesn't Joe stay out of my kitchen?" US Rep Lauren Boebert wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

According to a CNN analysis, at least five Fox News hosts repeated the story, despite it not being part of Mr Biden's climate plan.

"Americans are going to have to cut their red meat consumption by 90% in order to reduce emissions to hit Biden's target. That means you're only allowed to eat four pounds of red meat a year. That adds up to a burger a month. That's it," Fox News host Jesse Watters said during a Saturday broadcast.

It appears the first instance of the story appeared in an article published by The Daily Mail. The article appears to have taken its information from a 2020 academic paper that is not linked to Mr Biden or his yet-unreleased climate plan.

The academic paper, which was published by the University of Michigan and Tulane University, examined the impact on greenhouse gas emissions based on hypothetical changes to the American diet.

Neither the paper - nor Mr Biden's climate plans - have called for mandatory dietary restrictions.

The article claimed that "Americans may have to cut their red meat consumption by a whopping 90 per cent and cut their consumption of other animal based foods in half."

As of Monday, the article had not been updated to reflect that cutting red meat is not a Biden policy.

Diego Rose, one of the study's authors and a professor and director of nutrition at Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, explained the purpose of the academic paper in an email to CNN.

"Our goal is simply to illuminate through research the potential impacts that various behavioural changes can make on greenhouse gas emissions," Mr Rose said. "It is up to individuals to then choose their own behaviours that can address the drastic environmental situation in which we find ourselves. And it is up to society, all of us collectively, to incentivise those behaviours."

It appears Fox News picked up the false narrative after anchor Ainsley Earhardt repeated the story's claims on air. From there, the story spread throughout the network.

Both Roberts and Fox Business host Larry Kudlow repeated the claims in later segments.

The bogus story blew up in conservative social media circles, with personalities including Donald Trump Jr, US Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene, US Rep Madison Cawthorn and numerous others expressing outrage at the idea of eating less red meat.

The White House has not issued an official statement on the situation, but the Biden administration's rapid response director Mike Gwin did share a photo of Mr Biden grilling at a steak fry in Iowa in 2019.

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