Fox News didn't deliver on its promised Seth Rich coverage investigation, so Media Matters is doing it instead. This is the third in a series marking the two-year anniversary of Fox’s publication of a story -- retracted seven days later -- that promoted the conspiracy theory that the murdered Democratic National Committee staffer, and not the Russians, had provided the DNC emails to WikiLeaks. Read part one, part two, part four, part five, and our timeline of events.
There’s a long list of despicable comments that Fox News personalities have made over the past two years while promoting conspiracy theories about murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich -- from host Lou Dobbs claiming that there was a “partisan shroud” around Rich’s family to senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano asserting that Rich had been “killed assassination-style.” Host Sean Hannity ran a gruesome campaign on his shows and on Twitter to use Rich’s murder to counter the fact that the Russians had hacked the DNC servers and leaked its emails to help Donald Trump win the presidency.
But after reviewing the network’s coverage as part of Media Matters’ investigation into Fox’s Seth Rich reporting, I’ve concluded that Fox host Laura Ingraham topped them all by suggesting that Rich’s parents were squelching efforts to find out the truth about their son’s death for partisan or monetary gain.
Ingraham offered this sickening theory during a May 16, 2017, appearance on Fox & Friends. FoxNews.com had just published an article on the Rich case which used incredibly thin sourcing to report that Rich had been killed after he gave tens of thousands of internal DNC emails to WikiLeaks, and that his murder was being covered up.
After reading from the article, co-host Steve Doocy turned to Ingraham for her take, saying, “So it looks like, this is a possibility, this is a guy who provided to WikiLeaks all those DNC email.” She responded by immediately raising questions about Rich’s death.
“And he was shot in the back,” she replied. “He was shot in the back, nothing taken from his person. That’s just -- anyone at the time thought that was bizarre?”
“He happened to work for the DNC, rumored to have had contacts with WikiLeaks, and then, he’s shot in the back; nobody takes his cell phone, his wallet, just found in the street in Washington, D.C.,” she continued.
“It seems very suspicious,” co-host Ainsley Earhardt added, saying, “You know what’s interesting, that the parents aren’t pursuing it.”
“I don’t know what to say about that,” Ingraham responded, before deciding that she actually did know what to say.
“When people don’t want information to get out, and when an election is on the line,” she explained, “you know, again, reading between the lines, a lot of people will do a lot of things that otherwise they wouldn’t do when hundreds of millions of dollars are on the line.”
Ingraham was suggesting that Rich’s parents were such bitter partisans that they weren’t interested in finding their son’s killer if doing so might show that he was assassinated for giving the emails to WikiLeaks. According to Ingraham’s apparent line of thinking, that would have helped Trump’s campaign by disproving the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that WikiLeaks had gotten the emails from Russian hackers.
Ingraham’s ghoulish speculation was that Rich’s parents knew all this but wanted Trump to lose -- Seth was murdered almost four months before the 2016 elections -- so they made a calculated decision not to look into their son’s death.
Ingraham went on to criticize the “aggressive lack of curiosity on the part of the frothing media,” adding, “Where’s the follow-up on this story?”
For her part, Ingraham never mentioned the story on Fox again, either on her own show or other programs on the network, according to a review of the Nexis, iQ media, and internal Media Matters databases.