Several Fox News stars have continued to peddle the claim that Shake Shack employees “intentionally poisoned” the milkshakes of three New York police officers, even after the New York Police Department found there was “no criminality” by employees.
Late Monday evening, several police unions claimed the officers had been briefly hospitalized after noticing a substance in their drinks, suggesting that bleach was deliberately placed in the shakes by employees due to the currently tense national mood around policing.
The Detectives' Endowment Association declared the officers were “intentionally poisoned” while the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association fired off a breathless statement claiming its members were under attack.
“When NYC police officers cannot even take meal without coming under attack, it is clear that environment in which we work has deteriorated to a critical level,” the PBA’s official account tweeted. “We cannot afford to let our guard down for even a moment.”
The story was quickly picked up by multiple news outlets overnight, with many headlines based largely on the police unions’ narrative. Fox News @ Night ran a news segment on the alleged poisoning, complete with coverage from the scene, pointing out it was an evolving report. Noting that the unions framed this as a “blatant attack” on the officers, reporter Alex Hogan wrapped up her report by pointing out the cops were expected to be fine but that this is a “very scary situation for all of them.”
“Please let us know as you get more facts and information on that,” anchor Shannon Bream replied.
Conservative media personalities called for the Shake Shack employees to be charged with attempted murder and tied the incident directly to widespread protests stemming from the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.
Early Tuesday morning, however, NYPD Detective Chief Rodney Harrison released a statement that, after a “thorough” investigation, the department determined that there was no criminality. Investigators believe that a cleaning solution hadn’t been fully cleared from the shake machine, causing some to be included in the officers’ drinks.
Despite Harrison’s statement, which came at 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning, several Fox News stars have continued to push the now-debunked claim that the officers were deliberately poisoned by the burger chain’s employees.
Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren, in a tweet sent hours after the NYPD found no wrongdoing, wrote that there’s a “lot of cancel culture going on lately but lemme guess, not gonna happen to @shakeshack after one of their employees poisoned NYPD officers, right?”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Fox News contributor, also jumped on the “attempted murder” narrative train, wondering Tuesday morning—long after the NYPD’s statement came out—if New York City Mayor “DeBlabbio” would “demand that those responsible be charged with attempted murder of police officer,” saying if Mayor Bill de Blasio does not do so, he “should be charged with aiding and abetting.”
Fox News primetime star Sean Hannity, hours after the department found no criminality, shared on Twitter a post from a right-wing blog with the title “NYPD Officers Hospitalized After Drinks Spiked With ‘Toxic Substance’ At Shake Shack.” That blog post did not include the NYPD’s statement debunking claims of an intentional poisoning.
Fox News and Fox Business host Melissa Francis, meanwhile, did not post her own thoughts on the matter, but instead relied on right-wing Twitter personality and ex-cop John Cardillo to push a conspiracy theory about the NYPD clearing Shake Shack employees of wrongdoing.
“Why is everyone assuming that Shake Shack employees were honest with the NYPD?” Cardillo wrote in a tweet boosted by Francis. “All I’m saying is that three cops were sent to the hospital, no other customers were affected, and the investigation was closed in hours. Dozens of texts from NYPD cops who have an issue w/this.”
Lahren latched onto the same conspiratorial tweet, adding that “the whole thing doesn’t seem quite right.”
While the network’s stars continued pushed the attempted-murder narrative online, Fox’s on-air news operation repeatedly mentioned during Tuesday morning broadcasts the NYPD’s statement noting that there was no evidence of criminality, overtly avoiding any speculation about an anti-cop murder attempt.