A week after publishing a flawed story claiming that evidence exists linking former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, who was killed last year in a shooting in his neighborhood, and the group WikiLeaks, the Fox News Channel today published a statement announcing the removal of the article from its website.
Fox pundits such as Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Tucker Carlson, Geraldo Rivera, and the hosts of Fox & Friends all jumped on reports that a “private investigator” named Rod Wheeler, who just so happened to be a Fox News regular who was being paid for his work by a Fox News contributor, claimed that a federal source had found proof on Rich’s laptop that the late staffer had transferred tens of thousands of emails to WikiLeaks. This connection, according to Hannity and others, proved that Russia did not have a role in the hacking of the DNC.
However, Wheeler later said that not only had he never seen the emails or the laptop himself, but that he also never once communicated with the purported source who allegedly found the WikiLeaks connection.
Wheeler, who made his first statements on Fox’s local Washington, D.C., affiliate, said that the network had inaccurately portrayed his remarks and that the whole story was based on a “miscommunication.”
Despite the fact that Wheeler’s entire case completely collapsed, Hannity and others continued to run with the discredited story.
Newt Gingrich told Fox & Friends that Rich was “assassinated” and that the Russians had been absolved. Trump confidant Roger Stone and InfoWars host Alex Jones touted Wheeler’s since-retracted findings. Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice made repeated appearances on Hannity to push the hoax, despite the fact that Rich’s family had repeatedly asked that people stop pushing baseless conspiracy theories.
Hannity dedicated several segments to pushing the hoax, including an interview with Wheeler—who has since stopped speaking about the matter—and recently pounced on Kim DotCom’s evidence-free allegation that he too was in touch with Rich.
He even continued to peddle the conspiracy theory after his network retracted their story:
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 23, 2017
Will anyone at the network hold Hannity and others to account?
Rich’s brother recently wrote a letter to Hannity’s producer, appealing to his “decency to not cause a grieving family more pain and suffering” by continuing to push baseless conspiracy theories:
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) May 23, 2017