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Fox News reporter fabricated quotes for Seth Rich conspiracy story, lawsuit alleges

01 Agosto 2017, 11:28 | Fidele Alvizo

Getty Images

Getty Images

Wheeler's lawsuit accuses Fox News of working with the White House and wealthy Trump supporter Ed Butowsky to concoct a news article suggesting that Seth Rich, not Russian Federation, had given the DNC emails to WikiLeaks.

If you thought the White House Russia Collusion Story mill was running low on creative new twists, think again.

Reporter: Sean, can we get a White House reaction or the president's reaction to the report that said Rich was emailing WikiLeaks before his murder?

Fox News has told NPR that it does not have evidence that Wheeler had been misquoted.

For that Wheeler is suing.

Fox & Friends covers the report on their morning broadcast, with the chyron "DNC MURDER BOMBSHELL". There is plenty in there (see document here).

Folkenflik's description of events leading up to the story is a study in lousy journalism. But that does not answer all the other questions the lawsuit raises.

The story was pushed in an attempt to discredit the USA intelligence community's determination that Russian Federation hacked the Democratic National Committee and obtained the emails released by Wikileaks, the lawsuit said.

The claim was made by Rod Wheeler, a former detective with the Washington police department who worked as a paid investigator on the story, which said that the murdered staffer, Seth Rich, was the source of the emails from the DNC leaked by Wikileaks during the campaign. Police have speculated that he was the victim of a robbery gone awry. Most mainstream news organizations saw nothing there, where was the evidence?

Conspiracy theories returned in May when the network ran a speculative story with the P.I.as its only source.

In his lawsuit, originally reported by NPR, Wheeler claims he was recruited by Trump supporter and donor Ed Butowsky to investigate the murder on the family's behalf, but it turned out to be a ploy to shift blame of the DNC email hacking from Russian Federation. Butowsky said "the lawsuit is bullshit" and Wheeler's lawyer "pulled this out of his butt to make money". "Additionally, Fox News vehemently denies the race claims in the lawsuit-the dispute between Zimmerman and Rod Wheeler has nothing to do with race".

But the day the story was published, Spicer denied having foreknowledge of the Fox News report, saying during the White House press briefing that "I'm not aware of that... it would be highly inappropriate to do that". He did not go into detail about the circumstances surrounding the article, which Fox confessed did not meet the network's journalistic standards.

The lawsuit focuses particular attention on the role of the Trump supporter, Ed Butowsky, in weaving the story.

"The overt alliance between Rupert Murdoch's media conglomerate and Donald Trump is longstanding", the lawsuit states. But Wheeler and Butowsky were, in fact, in contact with the White House, according to then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Wheeler and Butowsky even met with Sean Spicer to give him updates on the investigation; Spicer admits the meeting took place but says the President didn't know about it.

"Not the part about, I mean, the connection to WikiLeaks, but the rest of the quotes in the story did" come from Wheeler, she says.

Spicer added that he has no knowledge of any contact between Trump and Butowsky. It's Wheeler who's filed the lawsuit, as will be explained below. Is he credible? Can his credibility actually be damaged? Wheeler had first called Butowsky to complain. In a segment, Wheeler backed up a claim by Bill O'Reilly that there were roving gangs of pistol-packing lesbians terrorizing and raping women. "In fact, the only purported source saying that Seth Rich sent any emails to WikiLeaks was Butowsky and Zimmerman's supposed source within the Federal Bureau of Investigation", the suit says.



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