An explosive new lawsuit by Rod Wheeler alleges that Fox News collaborated with the White House and knowingly misled the public in its coverage of the murder of former DNC staffer Seth Rich. One of the allegations in the lawsuit claims that a Fox News producer pushed the story as a means of trying to discredit the conclusions of the intelligence community that Russia hacked members of the DNC, and that the story was based on a misquote by Wheeler, a private investigator and a Fox News contributor. In a statement to Bustle, Jay Wallace, the President of News at FOX News, denied those particular allegations.
“The accusation that FoxNews.com published Malia Zimmerman’s story to help detract from coverage of the Russia collusion issue is completely erroneous," Jay Wallace tells Bustle. "The retraction of this story is still being investigated internally and we have no evidence that Rod Wheeler was misquoted by Zimmerman.”
Reporting at Fox News claimed that Rich had had contact with Wikileaks before his murder, implying that he may have been the source of the emails released in July of 2016, not Russian intelligence agencies as alleged by the CIA, NSA, FBI, and numerous other American intelligence agencies. But according to the lawsuit, the quotes alleging that were fabricated, and the whole story was directed with input from the White House to muddy the waters on the intelligence agencies' findings.
The implication of the since-retracted Seth Rich stories was that his murder in July of 2016 might have been related to his supposed interactions with Wikileaks, that he may have been "silenced" by allies of Hillary Clinton. But the Washington, D.C. metropolitan police have repeatedly asserted that they have no reason to believe anything like that, and that they still believe the murder to be a simple robbery gone wrong.
Rich was walking on Flagler Place NW in Washington, D.C., on the phone with his girlfriend Kelsey Mulka at around 4 in the morning on July 10, 2016, discussing his upcoming move to New York to work on Hillary Clinton's campaign. According to Mulka, she heard voices on the other end of the call, and Rich hung up. Soon afterwards, gunshots were heard in the area, and Rich was dead. No witnesses have come forward.
Theories about Rich's murder have abounded partially due to the fact that he still had his wallet, watch, and credit cards on his person, suggesting to some outside observers that it couldn't have been a robbery. The D.C. police have nevertheless seen no reason to suggest anything else. There are dozens of open murder cases in the city, and the police have not found reason to believe Rich's case involves anything suspicious. They have offered up to $25,000 as a reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of those responsible for Rich's murder.
After the later-retracted Fox News report and continued coverage from Fox News commentators, especially Sean Hannity, Rich's family published an op-ed in the Washington Post asking people to leave their son and them alone and stop propagating conspiracy theories about him.