Crime

Issues ››› Crime
  • Fox News shrugs while Sean Hannity has a meltdown over Seth Rich conspiracy

    Hannity is a loose cannon

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN WHITEHOUSE


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    After going to the wall for a week on the email hack conspiracy theory about murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, Fox News' Sean Hannity suddenly said Tuesday night that he was going to stop pushing it “for now.”

    The hollowness of Hannity’s line was immediately apparent. Minutes after saying that he would stop "out of respect for the family's wishes,” indeed even before his show was over, Hannity returned to the conspiracy theory on Twitter.

    Hours later, Hannity retweeted praise from Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, who is furiously fighting extradition from his home in New Zealand to the United States, adding a #Justice4SethRich hashtag.

    (Earlier yesterday, Dotcom had posted an evidence-free document purporting that Rich was involved in the hacking of DNC emails.)

    Hannity then asked his followers to retweet his promise to stay on the story.

    In the morning, Hannity went on a Twitter tirade against Media Matters.

    He also promised again to stay on the Seth Rich story.

    Meanwhile, Fox News is letting Hannity go wild with no apparent repercussions for pushing the vile conspiracy theory, which has caused great pain for Rich’s family. NBC’s Thomas Roberts reported that one source at Fox News simply said, “Hannity beats to his own drum.”

    This statement from someone at Fox comports with previous reporting about Hannity’s status at Fox. Oliver Darcy reported for Business Insider in 2016 that Hannity was “living on an island of his own” at Fox News. Apparently that's so true that he can brazenly boast that he’ll keep entertaining his obsession with a stale 4chan conspiracy even though it undermines Fox’s public statements. The networks' attempts to walk back the Hannity-fueled mess has left his colleagues ashamed to work with him.  

    This isn’t the first time Hannity has put his own interests ahead of Fox News’. In 2016, Hannity appeared in a Trump campaign ad without permission from his employer. In 2014, Hannity used his Fox News show to promote a paid sponsor of his radio show, which is tantamount to theft in the media business.

  • Seth Rich's family details the "nightmare" caused by conservative media peddling smears about their son

    Family pleads to conservative commentators and "those purveying falsehoods to give us peace"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The parents of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich have written a plea asking “conservative news outlets and commentators” to stop peddling “discredited conspiracy theories” about their son.

    Fox News and host Sean Hannity have relentlessly peddled the debunked conspiracy theory about Rich’s death even after the Rich family sent a cease and desist order to Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler. The cease and desist came after Wheeler’s recent allegations led right-wing media figures to revisit the story and smear Rich as the person responsible for providing WikiLeaks with DNC emails.

    Even after Fox News issued a retraction of their original article noting that “The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting,” Hannity refused to to back off the conspiracy theory.

    Now, Rich’s parents are imploring conservative commentators to stop pushing the “unspeakably cruel” and “baseless” smear that their son was the source of the illegally-obtained DNC emails that were published by Wikileaks during the 2016 election. In the letter, the Rich family details the lack of evidence behind the shameful conspiracy, debunks the favorite talking points of the disgraceful commentators pushing it, and make clear the “family’s nightmare still persists,” as “Seth’s death has been turned into a political football,” with “new headlines, new lies, new factual errors, new people approaching [the family] to take advantage of [them] and Seth’s legacy.” From The Washington Post’s May 23 article:

    Imagine living in a nightmare that you can never wake up from. Imagine having to face every single day knowing that your son was murdered. Imagine you had no answers — that no one has been brought to justice and there were few clues leading to the killer or killers. Imagine that every single day, with every phone call you hope that it’s the police, calling to tell you that there has been a break in the case.

    Imagine that instead, every call that comes in is a reporter asking what you think of a series of lies or conspiracies about the death. That nightmare is what our family goes through every day.

    [...]

    Still, conservative news outlets and commentators continue, day after painful day, to peddle discredited conspiracy theories that Seth was killed after having provided WikiLeaks with emails from the DNC. Those theories, which some reporters have since retracted, are baseless, and they are unspeakably cruel.

    [...]

    Despite these facts, our family’s nightmare persists. Seth’s death has been turned into a political football. Every day we wake up to new headlines, new lies, new factual errors, new people approaching us to take advantage of us and Seth’s legacy. It just won’t stop. The amount of pain and anguish this has caused us is unbearable. With every conspiratorial flare-up, we are forced to relive Seth’s murder and a small piece of us dies as more of Seth’s memory is torn away from us.

    [...]

    We also know that many people are angry at our government and want to see justice done in some way, somehow. We are asking you to please consider our feelings and words. There are people who are using our beloved Seth’s memory and legacy for their own political goals, and they are using your outrage to perpetuate our nightmare. We ask those purveying falsehoods to give us peace, and to give law enforcement the time and space to do the investigation they need to solve our son’s murder.

  • Fox News retracts online Seth Rich report while Hannity keeps pushing the conspiracy

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF


    Media Matters

    Fox News has retracted an online story promoting conspiracy theories about the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, saying the May 16 article “was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting.” Despite the online retraction and objections from Rich’s family, leading Fox News host Sean Hannity and other personalities at the network continue to aggressively promote conspiracies about Rich’s death.

    FoxNews.com originally posted a May 16 piece headlined “Slain DNC staffer had contact with WikiLeaks, investigator says.” The story relied on a report by D.C.'s Fox 5 and Rod Wheeler, a former D.C. homicide detective and Fox News contributor, for its sourcing. The Fox 5 story soon fell apart and Wheeler backtracked -- according to CNN, he told the network “he had no evidence to suggest Rich had contacted Wikileaks before his death.” Through a spokesperson, Rich’s family asked on May 17 for “a retraction and an apology from Fox News and from the Fox 5 DC affiliate for inaccurate reporting and damaging the legacy of their son."

    Six days later, Fox News has finally retracted its story.

    The network’s May 23 statement reads: “On May 16, a story was posted on the Fox News website on the investigation into the 2016 murder of DNC Staffer Seth Rich. The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed. We will continue to investigate this story and will provide updates as warranted.”

    Just retracting the one online story hardly undoes the damage Fox News -- and specifically Sean Hannity -- has done by pushing baseless conspiracy theories about Rich’s death. For the past week, Hannity and his colleagues have repeatedly pushed the evidence-free conspiracy theory that former Democratic staffer Seth Rich was murdered for providing WikiLeaks with emails from the Democratic National Committee.

    This afternoon, Rich’s brother sent a letter to Hannity’s executive producer calling on Hannity to stop pushing the conspiracy, writing in part: "As the family, we would hope to be the first people to learn about any such evidence and reasons for Seth's death. … It is a travesty that you would prompt false conspiracy theories and other people's agendas rather than work with the family to learn the truth."

    CNN reported that Brad Bauman, spokesperson for the Rich family, “told CNN the family was grateful for the retraction.”

    As of Tuesday afternoon, Hannity was still promoting the conspiracy on Twitter.

  • Fox News continues to push Seth Rich conspiracy after Rich family sent cease and desist to Fox contributor, demanded apology

    Fox News staffers are reportedly "embarrassed' by the network's promotion of Seth Rich conspiracy, asking "ARE WE STILL AIRING THAT SHIT?!"

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Fox News personalities are continuing to push an evidence-free conspiracy that former Democratic staffer Seth Rich was murdered for providing WikiLeaks with emails from the Democratic National Committee, even after the family expressed “severe mental anguish and emotional distress.” The family is so outraged by Fox’s actions, they have sent a cease and desist letter to a Fox contributor responsible for the conspiracy theory’s resurgence.