Fox News finally pays a price for its false reports on the Seth Rich conspiracy theories

Fox News finally pays a price for its false reports on the Seth Rich conspiracy theories
President Donald J. Trump participates in a town hall interview taping with Sean Hannity of Fox News Thursday, June 25, 2020, at Green Bay-Austin Struble International Airport in Green Bay, Wis. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

While Fox News attempts to stay in the niche swirling the toilet bowl drain of ultra-right wing nationalism, it is important to remember that Fox News created the fake news space and showed the world how profitable hate and fearmongering could really be. Back in 2016, as the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns worked their ways around the country, 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was tragically killed in what Washington, D.C. police called a robbery gone wrong.

Fox News, with an assist from Sean Hannity and whomever it is he gets his bogus information from, promoted a conspiracy theory-laden web of lies about Seth's death, connecting it to Hillary Clinton and the now quaint "her emails" scandal. Joel and Mary Rich sued Fox News in 2018 saying that the right-wing lie factory "intentionally exploited" their son's death to push a political agenda. On Tuesday, the case was dismissed by both parties as Fox News has reached a settlement with the Riches.

The original story was published by Malia Zimmerman and Fox News promoted it relentlessly for a week before retracting it. No further followup into what had happened that allowed the news outlet to publish and push the baseless, arguably libelous insinuations that Hillary Clinton and her team had assassinated a young man over emails leaked to the press.

NPR reports that Zimmerman's reporting relied on help from Fox News "investment adviser" Edward Butowsky, and based a considerable amount of conspiratorial speculation on a story that "relied upon quotes from a private investigator that he never said." Something that both Butowsky and Zimmerman admitted to later. Why did they do that? Because they're parasitical scumbags, that's why.

The Riches also sued Zimmerman and Butowsky. The entire lawsuit was dismissed as part of the settlement. That ensures that Fox stars, including Hannity and Dobbs, will not have to give sworn testimony to the court that could be made public. Another lawsuit, brought by Seth's brother Aaron against Butowsky and others, is still pending.

The Rich family released a statement about the case, saying "The settlement with Fox News closes another chapter in our efforts to mourn the murder of our beloved Seth, whom we miss every single day. We are pleased with the settlement of this matter and sincerely hope that the media will take genuine caution in the future."

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.