March 14, 2018 3:51 pm
Updated: March 14, 2018 3:55 pm

Parents of Seth Rich sue Fox News over false story

News headlines scroll above the Fox News studios in the News Corporation headquarters building in New York, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017.

AP Photo/Richard Drew
A A

The parents of a Democratic National Committee employee who was killed in 2016 allege Fox News exploited the slaying of their son as a “political football.”

Story continues below

Joel and Mary Rich claim in a lawsuit that Fox News, a reporter and a guest commentator used “lies, misrepresentations and half-truths” in a May 16, 2017, article that claimed their son, Seth Rich, had leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign.

READ MORE: Fox News published false story amid pressure from Trump, lawsuit alleges

The network removed the story a week after it was posted, saying it was not initially subjected to its “high degree of editorial scrutiny.”

Rich, 27, was killed in what Washington police believe was a random robbery attempt.

WATCH: Fox News host Laura Ingraham under fire for telling LeBron James, Kevin Durant to ‘shut up and dribble’

The lawsuit claims Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman and frequent network guest Ed Butowsky intentionally fabricated the story connecting Rich to Wikileaks, an organization that publishes information leaked by anonymous sources. The story was heavily promoted by Fox News host Sean Hannity and other conservative pundits such as Alex Jones, whose website Infowars has also promoted conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook shootings and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“No parent should ever have to live through what we have been forced to endure,” the couple said in a statement. “The pain and anguish that comes from seeing your murdered son’s life and legacy treated as a mere political football is beyond comprehension.”

READ MORE: Fox News retracts Seth Rich conspiracy theory report, Sean Hannity doesn’t

Attorney Leonard A. Gail said the Riches hope to hold Fox News, Zimmerman and Butowsky accountable for their “reprehensible actions.”

“Whether motivated by party politics, ratings, corporate profit, or personal gain, we hope to help prevent this kind of malicious and reckless behaviour in the future so that others can be spared the hell the Riches have had to endure,” Gail said.

Fox News declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

WATCH: Fox News host Tucker Carlson defends President Trump’s ‘s——e’ comments

Butowsky told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he did not write the article connecting Rich to Wikileaks and that it was “baseless and frivolous” to name him in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is not the first targeting Fox News over its reporting on Rich’s death.

Private investigator Rod Wheeler sued the network in August for defamation, alleging Fox put words in his mouth when it posted the Wikileaks story.

The story quoted Wheeler saying there had been contact between Rich and WikiLeaks. Wheeler alleged in his lawsuit that the comments were false and were put in the story at the behest of President Donald Trump to discredit investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump had no knowledge of the false story before it was posted and had no role in shaping it.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

Report an error

Comments

Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.

Global News