In the early morning hours of July 10, 2016, 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was shot several times in the back close to his Washington, D.C. home.
Rich, who was working on voter expansion efforts for the DNC at the time, died several hours later at a hospital — and D.C. police have said they believe he’s the victim of a botched robbery attempt.
Almost immediately after the shooting, conspiracy theories sprang up. On May 16, 2017, Fox News published a story it then retracted, claiming Rich was the one who provided DNC emails to WikiLeaks — not Russian hackers, as has been determined by the intelligence community.
On Tuesday, Rich’s family filed a lawsuit obtained by PEOPLE against Fox News, a Fox reporter, and a Trump supporter who is one of the network’s frequent guests, over the story about Rich. The suit claims writers and editors knowingly and maliciously spread “false and fabricated facts” about Seth and his death.
“No parent should ever have to live through what we have been forced to endure,” Seth’s parents, Joel and Mary, said in a joint statement sent to PEOPLE. “The pain and anguish that comes from seeing your murdered son’s life and legacy treated as a mere political football is beyond comprehension.”
The suit details how Fox reporter Malia Zimmerman and Trump supporter Ed Butowsky allegedly worked together to mislead Seth’s parents and create a fiction about his death. They recruited former homicide detective turned private investigator Rod Wheeler “to assist in their scheme,” the lawsuit says.
After the story was published, Fox host Sean Hannity gave particular attention to the piece on his TV and radio shows and on Twitter, court documents say.
Fox retracted the story about a week later, stating the article did not meet their editorial standards.
Despite the retraction, Fox …read more