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.
Rich family: promotion of conspiracy theory has “caused, and continue to cause, the family severe mental anguish and emotional distress”
Seth Rich’s family sent cease and desist to Fox News contributor behind evidence-free smears. On May 19, NBC News reported “the family of slain Democratic staffer Seth Rich is threatening legal action against a private investigator after his ‘outrageous behavior’ has given fuel to right-wing conspiracy theories about the unsolved murder of their son,” writing “an attorney representing the family of Rich … sent a cease and desist letter Friday to Rod Wheeler,” a Fox News contributor responsible for promoting the conspiracy. NBC additionally reported the cease and desist letter stated Wheeler’s “statements and actions have caused, and continue to cause, the Family severe mental anguish and emotional distress”:
The family of slain Democratic staffer Seth Rich is threatening legal action against a private investigator after his “outrageous behavior” has given fuel to right-wing conspiracy theories about the unsolved murder of their son.
An attorney representing the family of Rich, who was 27 when he was killed last July, sent a cease and desist letter Friday to Rod Wheeler, a Fox News contributor and former Washington, D.C., homicide detective who was employed by the family and earlier this week told a Fox affiliate that he believed police were covering up details about the crime.
“Your statements and actions have caused, and continue to cause, the Family severe mental anguish and emotional distress. Your behavior appears to have been deliberate, intentional, outrageous, and in patent disregard of the Agreement and the obvious damage and suffering it would cause the Family,” wrote Joseph Ingrisano of the law firm Katuk Rock, according to a copy of the letter shared exclusively with NBC News.
“Your improper and unauthorized statements, many of which are false and have no basis in fact, have also injured the memory and reputation of Seth Rich and have defamed and injured the reputation and standing of the members of the Family,” Ingrisano continued.
The letter demands Wheeler “immediately and permanently” cease and desist from making any comments about Seth Rich or his death and suggests he could face further legal action either way. [NBC News, 5/19/17]
Seth Rich’s family has previously demanded Fox News apologize for pushing baseless smears about their son. In a May 17 report, CNN wrote “The family of Seth Rich … is demanding retractions from Fox News and WTTG-TV on Wednesday for their inaccurate reports on the unsolved murder.” Darcy additionally quoted Rich family spokesman Brad Bauman, who stated “the family is officially asking for a retraction and an apology from Fox News and from the Fox 5 DC affiliate for inaccurate reporting and the damaging legacy of their son”:
The family of Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer who was fatally shot last July, is demanding retractions from Fox News and WTTG-TV on Wednesday for their inaccurate reports on the unsolved murder, a spokesman for the family told CNN Wednesday.
“The family is officially asking 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,” spokesman Brad Bauman said. [CNN, 5/17/17]
Fox personalities continue to promote the conspiracy theory despite the family's pleas for the network to stop
Geraldo Rivera: “Did #sethrich leak?”
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) May 22, 2017
Sean Hannity: I am right about Seth Rich because I was right about Trayvon Martin.” On the May 22 edition of his radio show, host Sean Hannity declared he is “asking these questions” about the conspiracy “because the media is trying to destroy a sitting president,” referring to President Donald Trump. Hannity continued, justifying his promotion of the conspiracy theory by saying “I was right in so many past things,” “I was right about Trayvon Martin”:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Why am I asking these questions? Because the media is trying to destroy a sitting president. Because the media is so, so absolutely freaked out by Donald Trump being president, they're trying to find anything they can to overturn the election results, and the Democrats are saying they want to impeach a president over this issue. So all I'm saying I'm doing here is asking questions that they refuse to ask. And where my greatest interest -- I'll let all of them combined do their job, and if they want to follow that path, fine. So far it's got them nothing.
For all of you in the media, I'm not going to stop doing my job and asking questions, because I know the lies you're telling, and the conspiracies you've spun, with no evidence, to destroy a president in conjunction with the deep state. I was right in so many past things. I was right about Obama, you never vetted. I was right that he failed, you never told people. You colluded with Hillary, I didn't. You didn't think Trump could win, he won. I was right about Trayvon Martin, wait for the facts. I was right about the [inaudible] case in Atlanta, I was right in Ferguson, Missouri because I waited for the facts in the Michael Brown case, I was right in Baltimore, you guys were wrong. I was right in, “the Harvard police acted stupidly.” I've been right, and you have been wrong, more often than any people I know, and if you think you people are going to intimidate me, when you are guilty of what you are now asking me of, you don't know me. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 5/22/17]
Hannity: critics of Seth Rich conspiracy are “Snowflakes with anger issues,” “U must believe the ‘robbery’ gone bad story!!”
Aww that's so loving of you. Snowflakes with anger issues and impulse control issues. U must believe the “robbery” gone bad story!! https://t.co/sI6GYRieoT
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 22, 2017
Fox’s Newt Gingrich claims Seth Rich was “assassinated at 4 in the morning.” In a May 21 appearance on Fox & Friends Sunday, frequent Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich claimed Seth Rich was “assassinated at 4 in the morning,” claiming “nothing serious has been done to investigate his murder”:
CLAYTON MORRIS (CO-HOST): We had a guest on our show earlier today who said, maybe because of all this confusion that you talked about, supporters are confused, they don't know what to believe, sources coming out of this, is it true, is it not, are people actually leaving this White House? Is there confusion that this Robert Mueller investigation will, in fact, finally shed some light on do you buy that argument?
NEWT GINGRICH: I don't know, look, I think it depends in part on how Mueller defines his investigation. People talk about was there interference from Russia? Well, does that mean they're going to look at the $500,000 paid to Bill Clinton? Does that mean they're going to look at the uranium deal? They gave Russia 20 percent of the uranium while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. I mean, let's go down the list here.
At the same time, we have this very strange story now, this young man who worked for the Democratic National Committee who apparently was assassinated at 4 in the morning, having given WikiLeaks something like 23,000 -- I'm sorry, 53,000 emails and 17,000 attachments, nobody's investigating that. And what does that tell you about what was going on? Because, it turns out it wasn't the Russians, it was this young guy who, I suspect, was disgusted by the corruption of the Democratic National Committee. He's been killed, and apparently nothing serious has been done to investigate his murder. So, I'd like to see how Mueller is going to define what his assignment is, and if it's only narrowly Trump, the country will not learn what it needs to learn about foreign involvement in American politics. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Sunday, 5/21/17]
Sean Hannity and Jay Sekulow teamed up to push Seth Rich conspiracy theory. On the May 19 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, host Sean Hannity and frequent Fox News guest teamed up to push the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. Declaring “I don’t believe it’s a robbery,” Hannity claimed the conspiracy, “if it turned out to be true,” would “completely wipe out the entire Russia lie we’ve heard for months and months”:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I am not backing off asking questions even though there's an effort that nobody talk about Seth Rich. Now, I've interviewed Julian Assange on radio and TV many times, and I've asked him about where those Wikileaks DNC emails came from that resulted in Debbie Wasserman Schultz's firing. This kid got shot in the back, they said it was a robbery, yet he had his watch, his wallet and his phone. I don't believe it's a robbery. But I asked Julian, was it the Russians? And then listen to what Julian said in a Dutch interview.
By the way my thoughts and prayers go out to this family. Jay Sekulow, then I want Juan to really fully respond. If he says it's not Russia and he sounds, he comes so close to the line saying, “it was this kid.” Let's put the kid out of it for a minute, I feel sorry for his family. But what if it was somebody that was so disgruntled in the DNC at how they cheated Bernie and how the fix was in, if that turned out to be true that somebody did that, wouldn't that completely wipe out the entire Russia lie we've heard for months and months?
JAY SEKULOW: Of course, and by the way, not only would it wipe that out, but Dianne Feinstein, the senator from California, when asked about evidence involving Russia collusion, she said she has seen to date none. [Fox News, Hannity, 5/19/17]
Fox News staffers are reportedly ‘embarrassed” by Hannity’s promotion of Seth Rich conspiracy, asking “ARE WE STILL AIRING THAT SHIT?!”
Daily Beast: Fox News Staffers Are Reportedly “‘Embarrassed’ By Hannity’s Conspiracy Theory Crusade.” In a May 22 article, the Daily Beast reported “Fox News staffers are growing increasingly dismayed as network star Sean Hannity and others continue to promote the unfounded conspiracy theory” about Seth Rich’s death, writing “The Daily Beast spoke to nearly a dozen reporters, pundits, and hosts inside Fox News who all conveyed the same sentiment: Hannity is “embarrassing” the network, and the promotion of the Rich conspiracy theory is senselessly cruel to a grieving family”:
Fox News staffers are growing increasingly dismayed as network star Sean Hannity and others continue to promote the unfounded conspiracy theory that Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer was murdered last year for talking to WikiLeaks.
The Daily Beast spoke to nearly a dozen reporters, pundits, and hosts inside Fox News who all conveyed the same sentiment: Hannity is “embarrassing” the network, and the promotion of the Rich conspiracy theory is senselessly cruel to a grieving family.
“ARE WE STILL AIRING THAT SHIT?!” one Fox News political reporter, who says they are furious that the conservative cable-news giant is entertaining the conspiracy theory, messaged The Daily Beast when informed of recent coverage. [The Daily Beast, 5/22/17]