On Tuesday, NPR reported that Rod Wheeler, a private investigator and paid Fox News commentator, filed a lawsuit against Fox News alleging the network worked with the White House and a Trump supporter to concoct a story about the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. One of the key figures in the lawsuit is Fox News producer Malia Zimmerman, whom Rod Wheeler claimed misquoted him as the single source for the story about Rich's death in July 2016. Bustle has reached out to Fox News for comment.
“The accusation that FoxNews.com published Malia Zimmerman’s story to help detract from coverage of the Russia collusion issue is completely erroneous. The retraction of this story is still being investigated internally and we have no evidence that Rod Wheeler was misquoted by Zimmerman. Additionally, FOX News vehemently denies the race discrimination claims in the lawsuit — the dispute between Zimmerman and Rod Wheeler has nothing to do with race.” — Jay Wallace, President of News, FOX News
The story garnered notoriety in May, when Fox posted a story in which Wheeler claimed contact between Rich and WikiLeaks — the very organization that had published Democratic National Committee emails.
However, in the lawsuit, Wheeler claims he never made the statement about Rich. Instead, he says he was told his false comments were incorporated into the story on the president's orders, according to the Associated Press.
But, who exactly is Zimmerman, the reporter now being sued?
According to Heavy.com, Zimmerman was the founder and president of the Hawaii Reporter, a conservative, investigative outlet, prior to joining Fox in 2015. The lawsuit described the Hawaii Reporter as, "a news website funded primarily by Watchdog.org, part of the conservative Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity."
She was born and raised in Kailua and told the Honolulu Civil Beat she identifies as Libertarian. She graduated from Chaminade University of Honolulu in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and communications, and on her Fox News bio is described as an, "award-winning investigative reporter focusing on crime, homeland security, illegal immigration crime, terrorism, and political corruption."
According to her LinkedIn profile, she currently resides in Los Angeles, but covers news nationwide. In addition to running the Hawaii Reporter for 12 years, she also produced and hosted a magazine show on the CBS affiliate, "You've Got the Power." She has freelanced for publications including People magazine, Inside Edition, and Washington Times.
Wheeler's claims against Zimmerman are coming in the context of the lawsuit, and while some details have been corroborated by other sources, not all of them have been factually proven at this time.