Guess Who Was Behind Fox News Pushing Sick 'Fake News' Conspiracy Theory, According to New Lawsuit

Guess Who Was Behind Fox News Pushing Sick ‘Fake News’ Conspiracy Theory, According to New Lawsuit

Paid Fox News Contributor Alleges Trump ‘Reviewed Drafts’ of Network’s Debunked Seth Rich Conspiracy Stories

Rod Wheeler, a private investigator who collected paychecks from Fox News for over a decade, has filed a civil lawsuit in New York’s Southern District Federal Court claiming that the network intentionally falsely attributed quotes to him to bolster their coverage of a conspiracy theory tying the murder of former DNC staffer Seth Rich to the 2016 hack of DNC Emails. While Fox News was forced to retract the story in May, the suit brings forth new and potentially damaging allegations to the beleaguered Trump White House: that President Trump himself reviewed the and approved the fake news before it was brought to air.

The lawsuit (acquired and reported brilliantly in depth on by NPR) states that Wheeler was hired by wealthy Trump-donor Ed Butowsky to investigate Rich’s murder ” on behalf of his grieving parents”. NPR reports:

On April 20, a month before the story ran, Butowsky and Wheeler — the investor and the investigator — met at the White House with then Press Secretary Sean Spicer to brief him on what they were uncovering.

The first page of the lawsuit quotes a voicemail and text from Butowsky boasting that President Trump himself had reviewed drafts of the Fox News story just before it went to air and was published.

 

Per the suit, Wheeler and Butowsky met in the White House with then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer to discuss the story. Spicer admits to taking the meeting but denies any direct Trump involvement. His explanation sounds eerily similar to Donald Trump Jr’s “opposition research” excuse:

“Ed’s been a longtime supporter of the president and asked to meet to catch up,” Spicer told NPR Monday night. “I didn’t know who Rod Wheeler was. Once we got into my office, [Butowsky] said, ‘I’m sure you recognize Rod Wheeler from Fox News’.”

Spicer said Butowsky laid out what they had found about the case. “It had nothing to do with advancing the president’s domestic agenda — and there was no agenda,” Spicer says now. “They were just informing me of the [Fox] story.”

Despite Fox Retraction, Hannity Refused to Concede

It did not take long for Fox News to formally retract the conspiracy theory. Trumpeting an administration that loves to accuse unfavorable press as “Fake News”, they were forced to admit — in no small part due to the fabricated Wheeler comments — that the story was unable to meet basic journalistic standards:

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. 

But not everyone at Fox News was on board with retraction, as Sean Hannity explained that night:

[brid video=”155576″ player=”5260″ title=”Hannity My prayers go out to Seth Rich’ family”]

Hannity’s refusal to see the truth in reporting is disturbing enough, but if there was formal White House guidance on pushing a sickening conspiracy theory, that’s yet another allegation of collusion that the Trump Administration will have to answer for.

RELATED: Fox News Calls For Trump Dictatorship After Obamacare Repeal Defeat

Photo Credit: Screencap/Fox News

Ed Hanratty is a Reverb Press contributor and freelance political journalist. A lifelong New Jerseyan, he prides himself on having just enough Garden State sarcasm and skepticism to keep his bleeding heart in check. Keep up with Ed’s work and random ramblings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the links below…but not Snapchat — that’s where he’s decided to draw the social media line. (For Now)

ReverbPress Mobile Apps ReverbPress iOS App ReverbPress Android App ReverbPress App

Ed Hanratty is a Reverb Press contributor and freelance political journalist. A lifelong New Jerseyan, he prides himself on having just enough Garden State sarcasm and skepticism to keep his bleeding heart in check. Keep up with Ed’s work and random ramblings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the links below…but not Snapchat — that’s where he’s decided to draw the social media line. (For Now)

ReverbPress Mobile Apps ReverbPress iOS App ReverbPress Android App ReverbPress App