Seth Rich (DNC)
A longtime Fox news commentator has filed a lawsuit against the network, alleging it used him to deflect attention from investigations about the Trump camp’s alleged ties with the Russian Government.
In the lawsuit filed on Tuesday, it’s alleged that the Trump White House reviewed and signed off on a concocted Fox News story, which claimed slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich had been in direct contact with Wikileaks.
The lawsuit was filed against Fox News by Rod Wheeler, a longtime Fox contributor who was quoted in a Fox story about his so-called “investigation” into the Rich murder.
Mr. Wheeler states that he was falsely quoted in the article published on May 16, as stating that his investigation found “some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks;” and that his investigation showed “someone within the D.C. government, Democratic National Committee or Clinton team is blocking the murder investigation from going forward.”
Wheeler who worked on the Seth Rich case claims Fox News fabricated quotes, which implicated the Democratic National Committee staffer in the WikiLeaks scandal. As a result of the investigation—it is alleged that the investigator coordinated with the Trump administration to concoct a believable story.
The investigator, Rod Wheeler, sued Fox for defamation. His lawsuit, filed Tuesday in New York, sheds light on Trump allies conspiring to push a false narrative to deflect from the Russian collusion probe. Taking the pressure off the president was the main objective in coordinating with a news organization, such as FOX— who was all too willing to share the fabricated story to President Trump before it was published.
Fox said accusations that reporter’s Malia Zimmerman’s story was published to detract from the Russian investigation is “completely erroneous.” Jay Wallace, Fox’s news president, said the story is still being investigated and that Fox has no evidence that Wheeler was misquoted.
In the complaint, Mr. Wheeler states that the author of the Fox article, Malia Zimmerman, worked closely with Mr. Butowsky, a Trump supporter and occasional Fox News commentator who pushed a fake article to advance the president’s agenda. The suit states that in April, Mr. Butowsky met with Sean Spicer, the president’s first press secretary, about the investigation into the death of Mr. Rich
Wheeler, a Fox contributor who investigated Rich’s July 2016 murder for the family, was brought into the case by Ed Butowsky, a Texas man and Trump supporter who appeared frequently on Fox, as noted in the lawsuit. Butowsky referred to by many as a conspiracy theorist was intent on establishing a link between Rich, who was murdered in July 2016 in what Washington police believe was a botched robbery, amid the WikiLeaks scandal.
Mary Rich, the mother of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, speaks at a press conference on Aug. 1, 2016. A lawsuit alleges Fox News and a wealthy Trump supporter intended to deflect public attention from growing concern about the administration’s ties to the Russian government by concocting a story about Seth Rich’s death. Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post/Getty Images.
Wheeler was quoted in the May 16 story on Fox’s web site saying there had been contact between Rich and WikiLeaks, whose dump of DNC emails proved a major detriment to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. He also said he was quoted falsely saying that someone—possibly Democrats or Clinton campaign officials—was blocking an investigation into Rich’s murder.
In a phone conversation two days before the Fox article was published, Butowsky was told that Trump had read the article and wanted it published immediately, according to information cited in the lawsuit.
Wheeler also alleges he was told false statements on his behalf were injected into the story because Trump requested the comments included. Wheeler states he and Butowsky had met with former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and showed Spicer notes on Wheeler’s investigation. Spicer asked to be kept informed of the probe, as cited in the lawsuit.
Fox removed the story from its website a week after it was published, saying that “it was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all of our reporting.” With the removal of the story, Fox News’ Sean Hannity was forced to back away from aggressively pushing the story on the air.
Wheeler has been a Fox contributor since 2005, is also suing Fox for racial discrimination. He said similar law enforcement experts who are white were given higher pay and more opportunities. Fox’s Wallace denied the accusations.
In a statement, the family of Mr. Rich said:
“While we can’t speak to the evidence that you now have, we are hopeful that this brings an end to what has been the most emotionally difficult time in our lives and an end to conspiracy theories surrounding our beloved Seth.”
Ms. Zimmerman and Mr. Butowsky, who are also defendants in the suit, as of this reporting have not responded to the allegations.
By LeNora Millen 08-01-17