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Fox News Finally Removes Bogus Seth Rich Investigation Report

by Prince Of Petworth May 23, 2017 at 3:25 pm 33 Comments

Sadly the damage is probably done but this is at least a step in the right direction. Though local Fox5’s remains live with an Editor’s note. Ed. Note: They should completely retract their story too. Thanks to a commenter for noting this statement from Fox News:

“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.

We will continue to investigate this story and will provide updates as warranted.”

  • Truxton Thomas

    This is such a disgusting story I’ve avoided engaging it. Glad to see those who have exploited it so shamelessly eat their words, but of course conspiracy theorists never back down in the face of contradictory evidence.

    • MadMax

      What’s the chance anyone who gets themselves riled up over stuff like this ever actually sees the retraction? Or for that matter would even care. They’ve already bought the tinfoil, it won’t change their mind.

  • Leeran

    Sad it took this long, but good to see. (Sean Hannity’s still pushing it however… we’ll see how long that lasts.)

  • JohnH

    Couldn’t Fox 5 at least update their headline?? Their editors note explains it somewhat, but it’s after a big bold headline that’s clearly not true.

  • Alien

    “Fox News”
    “high degree of editorial scrutiny”

    Just let that sit for a while

    Sean Hannity’s current tweet reads “Read Kim Dotcom and listen to democrats say over and over NO EVIDENCE of Collusion http://bit.ly/2rbeuDi



    That’s right. Fox news uses as primary sources: Kim Dotcom, “anonymous 4chan poster”, and, of course, other Fox News reporters.

    That is all.

  • Mark

    Headline 22 point font, retraction buried in 5 point font. Damage: done.

  • chai_town

    I wish news sites would report about the uptick in crime in the area due to the DC Water project. The months leading up to his death there were so many armed robberies due to lack of security and lighting along the project tunnel, and just saying that it was a “botched robbery” doesn’t fully capture the unique situation in Bloomingdale.

    • MadMax

      Uhh, what?

    • LedroitTigah

      150% agree with this. As a local resident who monitors police reports, I remember seeing a bunch of reports of robberies with a deadly weapon (a silver handgun, if i remember correctly), in the weeks leading up to his death. I think a local video camera had spotted Seth’s assailant with a silver handgun as well, so the timing/location/circumstances rang as a botched robbery to me as well.

      All these stories have made me crazy angry at Sean Hannity, Faux news, and the entire conservative press corps.

      the NYT’s Daily podcast has a good round up on why this story is so bogus and fake (see: May 25th ‘The Daily’ Podcast)

  • Anon X

    I havent followed this at all, but what about the following is incorrect:

    Fox News spoke to a source that was verified to work as a PI for the Rich Family. This guy said a bunch of seemingly groundbreaking stuff that the Rich family denies. The source was a primary source with unverifiable intelligence, but seeming access to the information. Fox News ran with it and got burned by a bad source.

    What am I missing? They should have known it was bogus because it sounded ridiculous? Certainly thats not the bar we’re setting.. WaPo and NYT have run things through leaked sources that until this year would have also not passed the sniff test.

    genuinely curious because I really cant find a thorough retelling of events…

    • madmonk28

      Fox News had been pushing an unfounded conspiracy about Rich’s murder that is not worth repeating; it was put forward with no evidence whatsoever and seems to be an attempt to deflect the spreading investigation into the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia during the election. Rich’s family wrote an Op-ed in the Post asking people to stop politicizing their son’s murder, but Fox persisted. Here is some background, but do yourself a favor and find Keith Olbermann’s takedown of the filth.


    • B

      I ask you sincerely WHAT has the WaPo or NYT’s printed from anonymous sources that has not passed the sniff test (and has turned out to be proven false)? I ask this because, in my view, this is a substantial problem in our country today: claims that ALL media (which I think is false), are engaging in the same tactics of posting incorrect/false/unverified/biased news – and therefore, we should reject any news sources that we don’t like or want to believe. Well, that’s simply not correct. WaPo/NYT and countless other decent news sources do not do this – they have certain standards. Yes, they may use anonymous sources, but they also verify those sources and corroborate before running with a smear story. They may occasionally get things wrong – but that is far cry from pushing a story that is demonstrably false, and continuing to do so in the face of being proven wrong.

      • textdoc

        Well put.

        • Blithe


      • Anon X

        As I said, until this year no one would have believed quite a lot of the front page articles… I didnt say they were wrong, I said they wouldnt have sounded reasonable until this year. I also wouldnt die on the hill of WaPo’d and NYT’s journalistic rigor. I’m fine criticizing Fox News and undoubtedly the papers are better – but NPR, they are not.

        So, back to the topic at hand, Fox News did have a source with purportedly inside information that did have a contract with the Rich Family, or not? I see the thing now is that they had no sources or any way of supporting it, but earlier stories included input from this PI. Did Fox News make this source up? Was this a different story related to Seth Rich, but unrelated to the conspiracy theory?

        I’m not interested in Keith Olbermann’s take down of anyone. He is undoubtedly part of the problem, just a different side to the same coin.

        • textdoc

          Re. “Fox News did have a source with purportedly inside information that did have a contract with the Rich Family, or not?” — it’s a little more complicated than that.
          The private investigator _was_ working for the Rich family… but they had hired him on the advice of a conservative commentator who had also offered to pay for the guy’s services. (I’m not clear whether the Rich family took him up on the payment offer.)

        • textdoc

          From https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/17/us/seth-rich-dnc-wikileaks.html :
          “The Rich family regrets hiring Mr. Wheeler [the private investigator] and has objected to his many public comments. […] Mr. Bauman [earlier described as ‘a communications professional who often represents Democratic causes and has worked as a pro bono spokesman for the family since last summer’] said that the Riches had retained Mr. Wheeler on the advice of Ed Butowsky, a Dallas businessman and conservative commentator who offered to pay for the investigator’s services.
          “Aaron Rich, Mr. Rich’s brother, said in an email Wednesday that Mr. Wheeler had ‘discredited himself as an objective investigator’ and had lost the confidence of the family. He said that the politicization of his brother’s death had been ‘painful’ and ‘debilitating.'”

        • SomeGuy

          So yes, there is a man who calls himself a private investigator named Rod Wheeler who is central to this whole thing. A rich fellow named Ed Butowsky (who, like Wheeler, is a Fox News contributor) offered to pay for Wheeler’s services to ostensibly help the Rich family. It seems as though the Rich family agreed to this arrangement, though the details on the arrangement are fuzzy.

          The most explosive fake revelation last week was the contention that Seth’s computer was examined by the FBI and found to have the DNC emails that were later leaked by Wikileaks on it. What I have not been able to find out (and I am interested in out of curiosity) is where this detail comes from (and in my opinion, who fabricated it). Fox News seems to say they got that information from Wheeler, and Wheeler has said he got it from Fox News (Wheeler talks about it here: https://www.buzzfeed.com/claudiakoerner/the-private-detective-who-ignited-a-clinton-conspiracy but the Fox News reporter whose article he was supposedly referring to has not commented). Either way, absolutely no one is standing by it now. People with actual sources in the FBI have said that they’ve never even had possession of Seth’s computer, as this investigation has always been with MPD.

          Anyway it was pretty gross to run with this story given the sketchy sources (check out Rod Wheeler’s previous reporting about lesbian gangs with pink guns roaming the streets) and downright unconscionable to continue covering it (as Hannity did) after all the “facts” of the story collapsed.

          • MadMax

            @SomeGuy Unfortunately I doubt you’ll ever get an answer. There’s simply too much crazy $#!% happening for anyone to care / do anything about it. Some other story will come along in an hour and 99% of the audience will pivot.

      • MadMax

        I love WaPo and NYT, but basic Google searches can answer your question. Here’s just one…
        Headline: Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say
        Retraction: Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.

        • Anon

          That’s not really the same thing. Seems like an error about whether the computer was or wasn’t attached to the grid. As to the headline, whether the computer that was hacked “shows risk to the US electrical grid” depends on whether the security to the hacked computer was the same or similar to the security for computers attached to the grid. Either way, the error is really of a different kind, imo. Equating this and the fox issue creates a false equivalence.

    • BlueStreak

      Nothing wrong with speaking to a source. But when it comes to airing a secondhand source (which is necessarily true with an after the fact investigation), it’s pretty typical to do some verification, none of which seemed to have been done here. You may not like the tone or slant of NYT or WaPo, but I haven’t seen them print the unfiltered account of an unverified source. In fact most of their stories, have multiple sources and have been verified, even if some of these are anonymous.

    • anon

      There’s a simple fact answering your question – the recent Fox News story was not in reaction to a source, credible or not, introducing a groundbreaking story. It was either Fox news, the source or both coming up with something “new” to bolster a conspiracy theory that had been percolating for months, with well-known (and wholly suspicious) right-wing roots. You can start by reading this Reddit post from ten months ago. As has been the case time and time again, these right-wing conspiracy theories start with whispers on social media and then are picked up by “veritable” news sources and given new life. And that’s how most people are able to tell it’s just a bunch of bullshit.

    • Anon X

      This is all helpful for me to understand it. The lack of credible connection to the Rich family by the PI was the missing link. I knew it was all BS, but I wasnt sure why this specific story was BS.

  • textdoc

    I feel so bad for Seth Rich’s parents. Like it wasn’t enough to lose their son when his adult life had just begun, now they have to deal with this??

    • Anon

      Yes. It is so unfair.

  • Carey

    I realize Fox 5 is owned by big Fox, but was this story reported by Fox 5 local news, or national Fox News? Most of the stories I’ve read about it seem to go back and forth as if the two are interchangeable, which is not 100% accurate.

    • SomeGuy

      It’s confusing because it’s both. Last Monday night, Fox 5 reported on these “new revelations,” which were apparently based on the “investigator’s” conversation with a Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman, whose article about this came out last Tuesday, using that investigator and an anonymous “federal investigator” as sources. Ms. Zimmerman seems to be in hiding, but the higher ups at Fox News clearly don’t have a lot of faith in her source, as they completely retracted the story.


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