CNN reports: The White House worked with Fox News and a wealthy Republican donor to concoct a story about the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, according to an explosive lawsuit filed Tuesday.
The story, the lawsuit said, was part of an attempt to discredit the US intelligence community’s determination that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and obtained a trove of emails released by Wikileaks.
For months, right-wing conspiracy theorists had floated unproven theories that Rich was the person who provided Wikileaks with the DNC emails, and suggested his death was retribution for his supposed leak. No real evidence was ever provided to support such claims.
The theory, however, resurfaced in May when Fox News published a story that quoted Rod Wheeler, a Fox News contributor and former homicide detective hired on the Rich family’s behalf by wealthy Republican businessman Ed Butowsky to investigate Rich’s death. According to the story, Wheeler said there was in fact evidence showing Rich had been in contact with Wikileaks. The story quickly fell apart when Wheeler contradicted aspects of it in an interview with CNN. Fox News eventually deleted it from its website, saying in a note left in its place that it failed to meet the network’s editorial standards.
Now Wheeler, in his lawsuit, which was first reported by NPR, is coming forward with what he claims is the backstory: Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman, with the “knowledge and support” of Butowsky, fabricated a pair of quotes attributed to Wheeler. It was all part of an effort to distract from the Russia narrative, the lawsuit said. [Continue reading…]