In July 2016, Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered in Washington, D.C. Gunned down in what police believed was a robbery gone bad. But, because he worked in data operations for the DNC, far right-wing outlets, including Fox News, began pushing a conspiracy that he was murdered because he was somehow involved in the hacking of the DNC. After Sean Hannity gave the conspiracy top billing on his Fox News show with three episodes dedicated to the deplorable conspiracy, Aaron Rich, brother of Seth Rich, published an open letter to Hannity and his producer, asking them to stop discussing the debunked conspiracy, begging them for “decency and kindness on this topic.” Parents Joel and Mary Rich published an op-ed in the Washington Post demanding people “Stop politicizing our son’s murder.” And now, nearly two years after their son was murdered, Rich’s parents are suing Fox News for smearing their son. From ABC News:
In the suit, which was obtained by ABC News, Rich’s parents, Joel and Mary Rich, claim that Fox News investigative reporter Malia Zimmerman and Fox News commenter Ed Butowsky reached out to the family under false pretenses to support stories that Seth Rich leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks.
The lawsuit claims that Fox News, Zimmerman and Butowsky are liable for the harm caused by the report because they “aided and abetted the intentional infliction of emotional distress” caused by the story about Seth Rich and alleges that Fox News provided with a national platform to develop what the lawsuit dubs a “sham story.”
Mary Rich says she is unable to work now because of the ongoing emotional stress. Butowsky is still at it, recently floating new conspiracies about Seth Rich.
Seth Rich’s parents are also suing Ed Butowsky, a Fox contributor who paid for a private investigator to look into the murder and was pushing new conspiracy theories about Rich just two weeks ago pic.twitter.com/JCsPbyucGW
Ã¢ÂÂ Will Sommer (@willsommer) March 14, 2018
Fox News personalities Sean Hannity, Steve Doocy, Lou Dobbs and Newt Gingrich are also mentioned in the suit.
Here is how the whole conspiracy got started. From the Washington Post:
TV news can be an easy mark. This iteration of the Seth Rich story started when the District’s own Fox 5 ran a Monday night “exclusive,” citing one source — a Fox New legal commentator, Rod Wheeler — for a “big break in the investigation.” Reporter Marina Marraco reported that “conspiracy theories” could “be proven right,” as Wheeler was saying what had been rumored since last year: Rich might have leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks, making him the target of an assassination.
“You have information that could link Seth Rich to WikiLeaks?” asked Marraco.
“Absolutely. Yeah. That’s confirmed,” said Wheeler, who Fox 5 identified as the Rich family’s investigator.
Within 24 hours, reporters at NBC News, CNN and The Washington Post had debunked the story. First, Rich’s family quickly corrected the idea that Wheeler was on their payroll; he was hired by Ed Butowsky, a Texas businessman who had grown interested in the case. Next, Wheeler told CNN he hadn’t actually obtained information linking Rich to WikiLeaks — Fox 5, he insisted, had told him to say so.