Fox News issued a retraction Tuesday concerning a story claiming that DNC staffer Seth Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks prior to being murdered in July 2016.
In its statement Fox said, “On May 16, a story was posted on the Fox News website on the investigation into the 2016 murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich.”
The statement continued, “The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed.”
The unusual circumstances of Rich’s murder outside his home in Washington, D.C., have been the source of much speculation online.
The D.C. police believe the murder, during which the 27-year-old was shot twice in the back, might have been a botched robbery, but Rich’s wallet and thousands of dollars’ worth of other valuables were not taken.
Further, the homicide happened 12 days before WikiLeaks released a trove of DNC emails revealing that the organization’s then-chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and others in leadership positions, actively worked to promote Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and to hurt that of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Private investigator and Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler told Fox Washington affiliate WTTG-TV that evidence existed that proved Rich had been in touch with WikiLeaks prior to his death and therefore may well have been the source of the DNC emails.
Fox News picked up on the story and added that a federal investigator, on condition of anonymity, corroborated what Wheeler had said.
Wheeler then appeared on CNN last Tuesday and backtracked, saying he had seen no direct evidence personally, only what others, including those in the media, had told him.
Brad Bauman, a spokesman for the Rich family, “released a statement in which he said the family had ‘seen no evidence’ to suggest Seth Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks,” CNN reported.
Following Fox News’ retraction on Tuesday, Bauman released another statement:
“The [Rich] family would like to thank Fox News for their retraction on a story that has caused deep pain and anguish to the family and has done harm to Seth Rich’s legacy,” he said.
“We are hopeful that in the future Fox News will work with the family to ensure the highest degree of professionalism and scrutiny is followed so that only accurate facts are reported serving this case.”
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been unwilling to confirm or deny that Rich was the source of the leaked DNC emails.
In response to web entrepreneur and hacker Kim Dotcom tweeting Saturday that he knew Rich and that he has proof the former DNC staffer was the source of the emails, Assange tweeted:
WikiLeaks has never disclosed a source. Sources sometimes talk to other parties but identities never emerge from WikiLeaks. #SethRich
— Julian Assange (@JulianAssange) May 22, 2017
Fox News host Sean Hannity does not appear convinced that there is no link between Rich’s murder and the leaked DNC emails. The implications are if Rich is the source, the Russians are not, and therefore a major component of the Trump-Russia collusion theory falls away.
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 23, 2017
Fox News promised in its Tuesday retraction, “We will continue to investigate this [Seth Rich] story and will provide updates as warranted.”
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