A lawsuit filed Tuesday by a private detective hired by the family of Seth Rich, the Democratic Network Committee (DNC) employee allegedly murdered in July 2016 in a botched robbery attempt, compelled White House to offer a clarification.
Rod Wheeler’s lawsuit claimed Fox News was urged by the White House and a supporter of President Donald Trump, Ed Butowsky, to publish an article in May about the conspiracy theory on Rich’s death. The article suggested Rich shared thousands of D.N.C emails with Wikileaks about Trump’s rival and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The theory tried to undermine the role of Russian meddling in a presidential election that is already being probed by the Justice Department.
In response to the lawsuit, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: “The president had no knowledge of the story and it’s completely untrue that he and the White House were involved.”
Wheeler, who has been a Fox News contributor, claimed he was used a pawn for promoting the conspiracy theory and the news network also fabricated his quotes in the story that was retracted later, multiple reports said.
While Fox News published an apology May 23 about the coverage, one of its most popular anchors, Sean Hannity has largely remained unapologetic about promoting the story and the theory.
“All you in the liberal media — I am not Fox.com or FoxNews.com. I retracted nothing,” he said at the time. He also refuted rumors of him being fired from the news network over pushing the conspiracy theory.
Hannity, who was often referred to as Trump’s cheerleader, called Rich a “whistleblower” for sharing the D.NC. emails. Last week, he even linked the conspiracy theory to the arrest of former Democratic staffer Imran Awan over bank fraud. Hannity said Awan was the source of leaked D.N.C emails.
The right-wing Fox News anchor, who has hosted Trump townhalls, has often promoted Trump on his show during the presidential race. He even praised Trump for the recent airstrikes in Syria saying Trump gave a clear message to the world that “The United States is back.” Among many other instances when he defended Trump was when he called the sexual assault claims made in October by several women against Trump a “distraction.” He even slammed a Hawaii judge for blocking Trump Muslim travel ban and said he did drugs with former president Barack Obama.