Fox News has formally retracted a story published on May 16 that claimed Seth Rich, a DNC staffer who was murdered last year, was in contact with Wikileaks. A statement on the Fox News website says the retracted piece “was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting.” Once the article was reviewed, it “was found not to meet those standards.”
The article, by investigative reporter Malia Zimmerman, has been removed from the internet. (An archive of the article can be found here.)
Zimmerman’s report cited an “FBI forensic report” that detailed communications between Rich and individuals associated with Wikileaks. The article quotes an anonymous federal law enforcement source claiming to “have seen and read the emails between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks.” Subsequent reporting by ABC revealed that the FBI was not involved in the investigation.
The report on Fox News also relied on independent investigator Rod Wheeler, who has since retracted his statements.
Right-wing media have exploited Rich’s murder to raise questions about whether Russian intelligence was the source of emails that Wikileaks dumped during the 2016 presidential campaign.
None of this has given pause to Sean Hannity, one of Fox News’ primetime stars, who continues to relentlessly promote the Seth Rich conspiracy on his show.
He is also promoting this story on Twitter.
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 22, 2017
Hannity is also relentlessly pushing information about Seth Rich from Kim Dotcom, the founder of MegaUpload, who is currently fighting extradition to the United States for criminal copyright infringement and other charges.
Wow. PLEASE READ ASAP https://t.co/wAmkwQkMMs
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 23, 2017
Dotcom promised to reveal information proving Rich’s connection to Wikileaks but provided no evidence and instead asked for legal assurances from the United States. Hannity is planning on hosting Dotcom on his show tonight.
In response to this, Seth Rich’s family is pleading with Hannity to stop spreading conspiracy theories about him. Rich’s brother, Aaron, writes that “providing a platform to spread potentially false, damaging information will cause us additional pain, suffering and sorrow.” Aaron Rich writes that Hannity’s broadcast of false and unverified information “will continue to emotionally hurt us.”
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) May 23, 2017
Hannity’s coverage, according to the Daily Beast, is causing a backlash at Fox News, where numerous staffers are embarrassed by Hannity’s efforts.
It has not, thus far, caused a backlash among Hannity’s advertisers. His show continues to be supported by major brands like Mercedes-Benz, Bayer and Capital One.
UPDATE (5:16PM): On his daily radio show, Hannity continued to press the Seth Rich story. “I am not FoxNews.com. I retracted nothing,” Hannity said.