Investigator Alleges White House Was Behind Fake Fox News Story About Seth Rich Murder

Fox News

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

Last year, DNC staffer Seth Rich was shot to death near his home in Washington DC. In May, Fox News ran a segment suggesting that Rich had provided Wikileaks with internal DNC emails, and was rubbed out in retaliation. Because, you know, that’s the kind of thing the DNC would do. Sean Hannity was all over this for days and days until Fox finally retracted the story.

Now, private investigator Rod Wheeler, who was a source for the story, is suing Fox. He alleges that he was falsely quoted, and that Fox originally ran the story at the behest of the White House. NPR has the story:

The Fox News Channel and a wealthy supporter of President Trump worked in concert under the watchful eye of the White House to concoct a story about the death of a young Democratic National Committee aide, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday….Wheeler alleges Fox News and the Trump supporter intended to deflect public attention from growing concern about the administration’s ties to the Russian government. His suit charges that a Fox News reporter created quotations out of thin air and attributed them to him to propel her story.

….The lawsuit focuses particular attention on the role of the Trump supporter, Ed Butowsky, in weaving the story….On April 20, a month before the story ran, Butowsky and Wheeler — the investor and the investigator — met at the White House with then-press secretary Sean Spicer to brief him on what they were uncovering. The first page of the lawsuit quotes a voicemail and text from Butowsky boasting that President Trump himself had reviewed drafts of the Fox News story just before it went to air and was published.

Butowski was one of the big Benghazi conspiracy theorists, but as you might expect, he now says was just joshing around about Trump reviewing the story. Spicer says the meeting with Butowski was just some routine stroking of a big donor. Nothing to see here, folks.

But then again, maybe there is:

The trial should be a fun evisceration of Fox News, even if Spicer and Trump don’t end up on the stand. Stay tuned.

¹Nice use of scare quotes here from the Daily Beast.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.