The parents of murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich are suing Fox News, claiming his 2016 slaying was used as a “political football.”
Joel and Mary Rich say Fox News, a reporter and a guest commentator presented “lies, misrepresentations and half-truths” in a May 2017 article about the murder of their son, who served as the DNC voter-expansion data director at the time he was killed. The article, which was later retracted, claimed an FBI forensics examination revealed that Rich had leaked emails to WikiLeaks before he was murdered. Fox said the story was not subjected to its “high degree of editorial scrutiny.”
The Rich family lawsuit claims Fox reporter Malia Zimmerman and Fox guest commentator Ed Butowsky made up the story linking their son to WikiLeaks.
“No parent should ever have to live through what we’ve been forced to endure,” Joel and Mary Rich said in a statement that was reported by the Associated Press. “The pain and anguish that comes from seeing your murdered son’s life and legacy treated as a mere political football is beyond comprehension.”
As WND has reported, Rich, 27, had accepted a position with Hillary Clinton’s campaign just before his death. He was murdered in Washington, D.C., near his apartment in an affluent neighborhood. His wallet, credit cards, watch and phone were left in his possession. The Metropolitan Police Department has described the murder as a “botched robbery.” A full 18 months later, no suspects have been named, and no one has been arrested.
As WND also reported, a manager at Lou’s City Bar, the last known location where Rich was seen before his murder, claimed police never interviewed the bar’s staff or requested evidence, such as footage from security cameras. And police never questioned Rich’s DNC co-workers.
Furthermore, WND reported, emergency responders, along with the Metropolitan Police Department and two local hospitals, refused to reveal what hospital admitted and treated Rich before a physician pronounced him dead on July 10, 2016. And the D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner refused to release Rich’s autopsy report.
The Rich family attorney, Leonard Gail of Massey & Gail LLP, said the plaintiffs plan to hold the parties named in the lawsuit accountable for their “reprehensible actions.”
“Whether motivated by party politics, ratings, corporation profit, or personal gain, we hope to 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,” Gail told the AP.
Fox News declined comment on the lawsuit, according to the news organization.
WND has reported Rich’s family members’ statements that they are “devastated” by the frenzy surrounding the murder of their son. Family spokesman Brad Bauman and the Rich family have repeatedly declined to respond to WND’s requests for comment.
“They didn’t ask to be in the middle of the media spotlight,” Bauman told CNN last August. “The truth is, all these folks want is to find the murderer, or murderers, that did this.”
Bauman said the Rich family is distraught by investigators and reporters seeking to connect the dots between their son’s murder and the DNC email leaks.
“What I can tell you is, they’ve been utterly devastated this past year,” he told CNN, adding that public speculation about Rich’s murder has hindered the family’s ability to cope.
“Since Seth’s passing last July, they have done nothing but try to maintain a sense of loss and to grieve the way a family is meant to grieve. Over and over again, because of conspiracy theories that have popped up, they have been deprived of that opportunity to move forward,” he said.
“They have been deprived of the opportunity to seek some new normal,” Bauman continued. “And, frankly, they believe the police have been deprived of the ability to prosecute the crime.”
As WND reported, in an August 2016 interview, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared to suggest that Rich was one of his sources.
Also, as WND reported in August 2017, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh appeared to have dropped a bombshell in audio – pointing out that the DNC emails obtained by WikiLeaks stopped pouring in after the mysterious murder of Rich in 2016.
In the audio, Hersh also claimed an FBI report described to him by an insider confirmed that Rich had taken some emails to WikiLeaks and requested payment for a full trove of DNC emails during the presidential campaign.
The latest DNC email released by WikiLeaks was dated May 18, 2016 – just weeks before Rich was shot twice in the back with a handgun.
“There are no DNC or Podesta emails that exist beyond May 21 or 22, last email from either one of those groups. What the report says is that some time in late spring … he makes contact with WikiLeaks, that’s in his computer,” Hersh said in audio almost certainly recorded by financier Ed Butowsky, who originally hired private investigator Rod Wheeler to investigate the murder of Rich.
Hersh continued: “Anyway, they found what he had done is that he had submitted a series of documents — of emails, of juicy emails, from the DNC.”
The following audio was first posted on a site called Big League Politics. It went viral after it was linked on Twitter by WikiLeaks. (Warning: This audio contains explicit language may offend some readers.)
On July 22, just 12 days after Rich’s death and days before the Democratic Party Convention in Philadelphia, WikiLeaks began publishing “44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments” from top DNC officials. Some of the emails showed DNC officials conspiring to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ candidacy and help secure the party nomination for Hillary Clinton.
On the audio recording, Hersh said his information came from a source “on the inside,” a “very high-level guy” who is “unbelievably accurate and careful.” He said WikiLeaks was able to acquire access to a password-protected dropbox that contained the emails.
Hersh also claims the DNC invented a story alleging Russian “hacking,” with help from then-CIA Director John Brennan, as a cover story.
While Hersh said he believed the MPD’s “botched robbery” account of Rich’s murder, he noted that the DNC staffer had been concerned for his safety at the time of his death.
As WND reported, the total reward for solving Rich’s murder currently stands at approximately a half-million dollars. However, the DNC has offered no reward for information leading to the arrest of the murderer of its own young staffer. Instead, the DNC honored its murdered employee by dedicating a bike rack outside its headquarters to Rich’s memory.