On Tuesday, May 16, 2017, Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity made an allegation that Seth Rich, the murdered 27-year-old DNC worker, had ties to Wikileaks. The story was picked up by conservative media, putting Seth Rich and the DNC in a negative light.
While the National Press Corp was reporting that information was divulged by the White House to Russian diplomats, Breitbart and Drudge were spreading Fox’s Seth Rich story, creating an regrettable buzz on social media.
The purpose of the story was to dispel the idea that the Russians were behind the hacks of the DNC emails. Instead, the story reports that it was an insider, Seth Rich, who leaked the information.
Since there is no proof for the story, Fox retracted it the same afternoon, also removing it from their website. The channel replaced the story with a statement admitting that its editorial scrutiny standards for reporting were not met. Therefore, the story was removed. Note, there was no apology to the Rich family for the cloud this story cast upon their dead son.
The mainstream media’s restraint to report on this issue shows its integrity to report on only verifiable information.
On Wednesday, May 17th, Fox affiliates reported that Ron Wheeler, the former detective hired by the Rich Family, backtracked his statements regarding the Rich murder investigation. On Friday, Snopes published its finding that there was no connection between Seth Rich and Wikileaks. Nevertheless, the story remained on several conservative news sites, allowing it to be spread further.
On Sunday, NBC reported that the Rich family sent a letter to Detective Wheeler, demanding him to cease and desist, stating that he had released unauthorized and false statements. In spite of this, Hannity called on Congress to investigate Seth Rich’s murder.
The Fox story that Seth Rich was a leaker rather than a victim of violence got so much traction that Fox’s retraction of the story had very little effect. On Monday, Geraldo Revera tweeted about the alleged connection between Seth Rich, the Bernie Sanders controversy and Wikileaks. The Breitbart story on this issue is still posted, influencing the minds of people all over the world.
So Fox’s retraction is too little, too late. The lies are out there, being spread far and wide. Instead of Fox putting this matter to rest and issuing a well-deserved apology to the Seth Family for the pain and suffering the erroneous story caused them, the channel continues to investigate the matter, promising to provide updates.