Fox News political analyst Gianno Caldwell on Thursday pushed the false narrative that restaurant employees have intentionally poisoned police officers, likely referencing an infamous claim that was debunked by the New York Police Department.
During an appearance on Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, Caldwell, who is Black, was asked by anchor Neil Cavuto about the growing push to make Juneteenth a national holiday, something Caldwell said he supported.
“Honestly what people don’t know is that Juneteeth was established by Republicans,” he added. “As we all know, Lincoln freed the slaves. So I absolutely support that.”
Cavuto then contrasted the current move to be “more conscious” of social and racial justice issues with the recent Atlanta police “sick-out,” wondering aloud if “we are treating all sides fairly here.”
After saying that he supported police reform and highlighting the fact that the majority of Americans agree, Caldwell expressed concern that law enforcement was being unnecessarily targeted.
“I’m reminded of an incident in a restaurant where somebody put bleach in some drinks that officers were drinking,” he said. “It is very, very disappointing. Because that is not where we really get a true reform.”
It is unclear which specific alleged incident Caldwell was referencing, but he was most likely referring to the incident earlier this week in which three NYPD officers claimed that Shake Shack employees put a bleach-like substance in their milkshakes. This prompted the local police unions to baselessly assert that the restaurant’s employees “intentionally poisoned” the cops.
Hours after the claims emerged, however, the NYPD cleared the workers and restaurant of any criminal wrongdoing. Despite that, some Fox News stars continued to push the false narrative online—even after the chief NYPD detective publicly debunked it.
And Caldwell is no stranger to dropping baseless speculation or allegations into his on-air analysis.
Earlier this month, after Attorney General William Barr said that he’d seen evidence that “antifa and other similar extremist groups” had instigated violence during protests—though no anti-fascists have yet been charged—Caldwell referenced conservatives’ favorite bogeyman while going down a conspiratorial rabbit hole.
“Is it George Soros that’s helped fund some of the operations?” Caldwell asked at the time. “If it is, and if antifa is declared a domestic terrorism group, would he possibly face some charges because of his association with it? It’s any number of things that could absolutely come up with A.G. Barr.”
After publication, Caldwell took to Twitter to apologize for his remarks, acknowledging that the New York police found no wrongdoing in the case.
“Earlier today, I referenced a claim regarding an attack on law enforcement officers while at a restaurant,” he wrote. “I apologize to our viewers as I was not fully knowledgeable on the incident. This claim was investigated and there was no criminal wrongdoing found, I regret this error.”
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