Fox News Gets Sued Over Explosive Seth Rich Story
Investigator says network fabricated quotes, worked with White House
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2017 10:44 AM CDT
Fox News host Sean Hannity, who started losing advertisers over the Seth Rich story.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

(Newser) – Remember the controversy over the death of young Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich? It just took another tangled turn. A private investigator is suing Fox News, alleging that the network made up quotes from him to buttress its allegations that Rich leaked DNC emails and was murdered because of it. (Fox aired a story in May based on Rod Wheeler's investigation into the 27-year-old's death but retracted it a week later, saying it had failed to meet the network's standards.) The lawsuit by Wheeler also suggests that Fox let the White House, and perhaps President Trump himself, review the report before it aired, reports NPR. (See a copy of the lawsuit here.) Wheeler alleges that Fox worked in cahoots with the White House to push the story in order to dispute the notion that Russians had leaked the emails in order to help Trump's campaign.

Fox's news president, Jay Wallace, tells NPR there is no "concrete evidence" that Wheeler had been misquoted by reporter Malia Zimmerman. The White House didn't provide an immediate comment, per BuzzFeed. Wheeler was paid to conduct his investigation by wealthy Dallas investor and Trump supporter Ed Butowsky. In the lawsuit, Wheeler cites a text from Butowsky saying, "Not to add any more pressure but the president just read the article. He wants the article out immediately. It's now all up to you." Butowsky now says he was joking about Trump's involvement. Wheeler and Butowsky met with Sean Spicer at the White House about a month before the story aired to brief him about it, but Spicer says he agreed to the meeting mainly as a courtesy to Butowsky. Spicer says he's unaware of any contact they might have had with the president.

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