Fox News backed down from Seth Rich conspiracy theory — now his family is taking action

Fox News backed down from Seth Rich conspiracy theory — now his family is taking action
The family of murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich is suing Fox News over its reporting on conspiracy theories about his death. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Months after Fox News was forced to retract its reporting on conspiracy theories surrounding the death of a Democratic National Committee employee, the family of the victim is taking legal action against the cable news network.

Here’s what they were reporting

Fox News host Sean Hannity offered up numerous reports on his show theorizing that a murdered DNC employee was involved in the hacking of the committee during the 2016 election.

“Congress, investigate Seth Rich Murder!” he tweeted in November 2016. “[WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange] made comments u need to listen to! If Seth was wiki source, no Trump/Russia collusion.”

Here’s why the Rich family is suing 

On Tuesday, the family of Seth Rich filed a lawsuit against Fox News and reporter Malia Zimmerman and guest Ed Butowsky over their coverage of their son’s murder.

“The pain and anguish that comes from seeing your murdered son’s life and legacy treated as a mere political football is beyond comprehension,” Rich’s parents said in a statement to The Hill.

They allege that Zimmerman and Butowsky reached out to the family under false pretenses in order to bolster their reporting of the story. They claim that their acts “aided and abetted the intentional infliction of emotional distress” on the family through their misleading reports.

“Joel and Mary Rich have brought this case to hold Fox News, Fox reporter Zimmerman, and political operative and Fox News contributor Butowsky, accountable for their reprehensible actions,” said a lawyer for the family in a statement Tuesday. “Whether motivated by party politics, ratings, corporate profit, or personal gain, we hope to help prevent this kind of malicious and reckless behavior in the future so that others can be spared the hell the Riches have had to endure.” It should be noted that Fox News denies that Butowsky was a “contributor” for the network, and states that he was only a guest.

Butowksy called the lawsuit “one of the dumbest” he’s seen, and said that the claim that anyone benefitted from the reports “just smells weird.”

A retraction

On May 23 of 2017, Fox News had issued the following retraction of the story they reported:

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 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.

That evening, Hannity said he had spoken to the family about their loss, and said that he would not talk about the case out of respect for the family’s wishes.

One of Hannity’s last defiant messages was that he would continue investigating the murder of Seth Rich. “I retracted NOTHING,” he tweeted.

“I Rightly GAVE RESPECT to a grieving family that asked for it and was thanked by them,” he added. “My investigation continues.”

Editor’s note: The original version of this story identified Butowsky as a Fox News “contributor.” Per a statement provided to TheBlaze by Fox News, Butowsky was never a paid contributor to Fox News, only a guest. The story has been corrected to reflect this, and we regret the error. Additionally, Fox News provided a statement that said simply, “We can’t comment on this pending litigation.”