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Statement on coverage of Seth Rich murder investigation

Statement on coverage of Seth Rich murder investigation

The family of Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer whose murder was at the center of a right-wing conspiracy theory, is suing Fox News for a story it retracted a year ago implying that he leaked documents to WikiLeaks. However, in the absence of definitive answers, conspiracy theories have proliferated online claiming-without evidence-that Rich was murdered under more suspicious circumstances.

"With disregard for the truth and for the obvious harm that their actions would cause the Riches, Fox, Zimmerman and Butowsky propagated and developed a fictitious story that their deceased son, Seth - not Russian hackers or anyone else - provided Democratic National Committee emails to WikiLeaks", Leonard A. Gail, the attorney representing the family, said in a statement.

After their son Seth Rich died, the cable network made an unsubstantiated link between his death and Wikileaks' disclosure of hacked DNC emails. "The pain and anguish that comes from seeing your murdered son's life and legacy treated as a mere political football is beyond comprehension", the Riches said in a joint statement.

"Joel and Mary Rich, grieving parents of a murdered child, seek justice for having become collateral damage in a political war to which they are innocent bystanders", according to a complaint filed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.

The suit's allegations zero in on the role of Butowsky, a wealthy Trump supporter whose involvement in the Fox News coverage of Rich is already the subject of a separate lawsuit.

In their lawsuit, Joel and Mary Rich claim that reporter Malia Zimmerman and frequent network guest Ed Butowsky intentionally fabricated the story connecting Rich to WikiLeaks.

The story, published May 16, went viral.

"The simple answer is I didn't write the article, nor did I participate in writing the article so the idea that somehow the lawsuit against me for causing emotional distress from an article that I didn't write is kind of weird", Butowsky told iMediaEthics by phone.

Sean Hannity, who discussed the Rich murder on his show, told his audience that he would stop talking about the case "for now" after the story was retracted by Fox News "out of respect for the family's wishes", NBC News wrote.

The couple is suing for intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other claims, and say they've experienced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder because of the situation.

Butowsky, according to the lawsuit, reached out to the family under false pretenses, persuading them to hire Rod Wheeler to investigate their son's death.

Butowsky told ABC News in an interview that the lawsuit is "one of the dumbest" he'd ever seen.

Butowsky said that Joel Rich had been "very happy with the article" when it was initially published. And while Mr. and Mrs.