Fox removes report from website about murdered DNC staffer

Danny Woods
May 24, 2017

After a week of waffling, Fox News Channel finally retracted a bogus news story pushed hard by the network and its bloviating talk show host Sean Hannity about a conspiracy theory regarding the murder previous year of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.

"Think about how you would feel losing a son or brother".

Online conspiracy theorists along with conservative pundits, most notably Fox News Anchor Sean Hannity, have speculated that Rich could be the source that provided the DNC emails to WikiLeaks, which could have precipitated his murder.

"Seth's death has been turned into a political football", they wrote.

Having been at the Democratic National Committee for just over a year, Seth Rich was shot on July 10, 2016 near his home in Bloomingdale neighborhood in the nation's capitol. The statement said Fox would continue to investigate the story.

Fox 5 of DC reported that private investigator Rod Wheeler, who is affiliated with the Rich family, said that before Rich was fatally shot in July, he was in contact with WikiLeaks, the website that was responsible for the release of internal DNC emails past year. Simple explanations can be dismissed outright for unsubstantiated claims, and evidence that undermines the narrative that can conveniently ignored.

Last week, Rich's family had called on Fox to retract the stories and threatened legal action.

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The problem for Hannity and Gingrich is Rich's family wants nothing to do with the murder conspiracy. Hannity did, however, reach out over the weekend to invite Kim Dotcom, the Megaupload founder, on to his program.

WTTG-TV later walked back its story, noting that Wheeler conceded he had no evidence Rich was in contact with Wikileaks. "The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting", the network said in a statement released Tuesday. Dotcom has claimed to have evidence Rich leaked documents to Wikileaks, though he has not provided such evidence to the public.

Law enforcement officials have said that Rich's computer and email activity have been examined and suggest nothing that would connect him to WikiLeaks - which, 12 days after Rich's death, published 20,000 emails that embarrassed former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and the DNC, and forced the ouster of its chairwoman.

The letter from Rich's family was in response to Hannity's invitation to Dotcom. This prompted Rich's brother to write a letter asking Hannity to stop making "baseless accusations". "By airing this information, you will continue to emotionally hurt us".

"We appeal to your decency to not cause a grieving family more pain and suffering by allowing your platform to be used by someone to drag our family name through the mud", the letter concluded. "I only got that [information] from the reporter at Fox News", Wheeler said.

On Monday, multiple journalists at the network expressed frustration to CNN that Hannity and other on-air personalties at Fox News were being permitted to peddle the discredited theory.

"I retracted nothing", Hannity said on Tuesday afternoon.

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