Analysis: Greg Abbott's claim that Biden will ban red meat par for his fact-free governorship

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a coronavirus-related press event. - Courtesy Photo / Texas Governor's Office
Courtesy Photo / Texas Governor's Office
Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a coronavirus-related press event.
This week, Gov. Greg Abbott drew social media and late-night TV ridicule for tweeting out a bogus report that the Biden administration is coming to confiscate Texans' brisket.

On Sunday, the state's GOP governor shared a widely debunked claim from Fox News pundit John Roberts that the Biden White House's climate plan includes capping Americans' consumption of red meat at four pounds annually.

Since Fox aired the segment, administration officials have since pointed out that there's no such mandate, and Roberts himself conceded that his piece was wrong. Fox's apparent source was the British tabloid the Daily Mail, which published an overheated and theoretical claim that the U.S. would need to slash red meat consumption to reduce greenhouse gases.

Even so, Abbott didn't let the truth get in the way of — pardon the pun — hurling red meat to the GOP base.

“Not gonna happen in Texas!” the governor proclaimed in his tweet, which included a Fox graphic displaying the erroneous claims.
Of course, the easy thing here would be to go for a quick chuckle and share the quips tweeted back at Abbott over the laughable claim. To be sure, there were good ones, such as a straight-to-the-point takedown by Parker Molloy, editor-at-large for press watchdog Media Matters.
But the reality is Abbott's eagerness to share the patent falsehood is symptomatic of a larger problem with his governorship — and one that's no laughing matter.

The tweet is part of a pattern for Abbott, who seems to value riling up the base and positioning himself for reelection more than leveling with the Texans he was elected to represent. What's more, that mindset has revealed itself in disturbing ways during some of the biggest crises he's faced while in office.

As Abbott rushed to reopen the state during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic that's now claimed 50,000 lives in Texas, he was caught on an audio recording telling lawmakers his reopening plan would increase spread of the virus. That's a detail he hadn't bothered to share in his public cheerleading of the reopening plan.

Weeks later, Abbott was captured on video lying about whether state health officials commingled two types of COVID-19 tests — something that could make infection rates look lower than they actually were.

The February winter storms that killed dozens of Texans and left millions without power also highlighted Abbott's disregard for facts and straight talk.

Appearing on Fox News during the crisis, the governor falsely blame renewable energy sources for power failures, saying the storm “just shows that fossil fuel is necessary for the state of Texas." Never mind that experts lay much of the blame for the outages on the state's over-reliance on natural gas.

More recently, Abbott displayed a similar disdain for reality when he called a news conference in front the migrant shelter at San Antonio's Freeman Coliseum and demanded the Biden administration immediately close the site based on vague and uninvestigated claims that abuse had occurred inside.

So far, a state probe has revealed no wrongdoing, and County Judge Nelson Wolff this week dismissed the governor's allegations as "completely false."

Abbott's Twitter claim about banned burgers would be easier to laugh off if it wasn't just one whopper among many. And the stakes surrounding many of those truth-averse moments run higher than what Texans order at the drive-thru. 

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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