“ARE WE STILL AIRING THAT SH*T?!” a Fox News reporter texted to the Daily Beast when asked for comment about Hannity going all-in on the Rich conspiracy theory.
They’re still airing that sh*t. The Rich family has asked them to stop.
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) May 23, 2017
The surge of interest in Rich’s murder started last Monday with a story from a Fox affiliate. According to PI Rod Wheeler, an FBI forensic report showed that thousands of emails to and from Wikileaks had been found on Rich’s computer. Connect the dots: If Rich, a DNC staffer, was in contact with Wikileaks and then Rich was murdered, Rich was probably the source of last summer’s DNC leaks. It wasn’t Russia! It was an inside job — and Rich, knowing too much, had to be eliminated by ClintonWorld. A few problems, though. An FBI source says the Bureau never had Rich’s laptop. A law enforcement source told NBC that there are no emails to or from anyone at Wikileaks on the computer. And Wheeler himself admitted that he got his info about the emails from a report on Fox News, not anything he had independently discovered.
But there’s a more basic objection to the story, via John Ziegler. Why the hell would anyone target Rich over a minor scandal like the DNC leaks and risk turning it into a much, much, much, much bigger one?
Let’s pretend that’s what really happened (LMAO). What exactly would be the motive for murdering Rich in the middle of a presidential election which you were widely expected to win?! So you are going to kill someone because they have created a political headache for you even though murdering them would obviously be a 10,000 times larger and more damaging scandal if it was ever found out?
Makes no sense. Plus, given how uniform the opinion is among U.S. intelligence outlets like the CIA and FBI that Russia was behind the DNC hacking, you need to believe that the conspiracy to cover up Rich’s identity as the true culprit goes very high and very wide among federal officers. This isn’t a matter of a few local cops hushing something up. If you think there’s something to the Rich story, you need to believe that Comey, Brennan, Clapper, and many others are in on it and that the Trump White House somehow can’t uncover the truth. President Hillary would have had an incentive to blame Russia and overlook Rich once in office, but President Trump doesn’t. To the contrary.
And yet, to the apparent dismay of reporters there, Fox News bombthrowers continue to cling to the possibility of Rich skullduggery. It’s not just Hannity. Newt Gingrich has pushed the idea, as has Geraldo Rivera. The Kremlin itself has begun pushing Seth Rich propaganda on Twitter, seizing an opportunity to shift blame for the hacking away from itself. It seems a matter of time before Trump is asked about it and answers either noncommittally or, true to form, credulously about the right-wing conspiracy theory du jour. Hannity remains the theory’s most ardent pursuer, though, and is promising more tonight — despite the appeal from the Rich family:
Wow. PLEASE READ ASAP https://t.co/wAmkwQkMMs
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 23, 2017
Go figure that Kim Dotcom might say something that helps him build a base of support inside the U.S. given his own legal issues. “The other reporters I’ve talked to [about this] are similarly pissed about the whole thing,” a second Fox reporter said to the Daily Beast. “Some find it embarrassing, others downright heartless… It’s just gross.” Makes me wonder if the news side of Fox isn’t about to take matters into their own hands, as they did with Andrew Napolitano pushing dubious bombshells, by using their own programming hours to try to debunk fake news being peddled by other shows on the network.
Not to be outdone, the “other” conservative cable news network, OAN, is now offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Rich’s killer. Why does righty media suddenly have Rich fever? This is part of it:
The reason Hannity's conspiracy stuff keeps getting crazier: when you win, how to still argue the world is in cahoots against you?
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) May 23, 2017
This, about the OAN reward, is part of it too:
It's stuff like this that'll make it hard for Fox to turn the page on the Ailes era. The market for this will be served one way or another. https://t.co/E0e2zMjZkC
— Liam Donovan (@LPDonovan) May 23, 2017
The Rich conspiracies are popular again right now, I think, because Trump has been besieged by Russiagate hits from the media lately and it’s the fastest route to letting him off the hook. There’s no Russiagate collusion because … Russia didn’t do anything. Seth Rich did it! Trump is innocent, therefore all of the Russiagate bombshells lately are fake news, etc etc. That wouldn’t be true even if Trump really is innocent of collusion with Moscow, which I think he is, since obstruction for political reasons is an offense in itself. But the more you can muddy the waters among his loyal supporters about what really happened, the better it is for him — it does more damage to their willingness to believe the MSM, it makes Trump look like the victim of a bona fide criminal conspiracy involving murder, and it paints the left as so ruthless that they’d be willing to kill one of their own for leaking some emails. Hannity won’t let it go easily.
Update: Lo and behold, as I’m writing this post, Fox has pulled its original Wheeler/FBI story. They are no longer “airing that sh*t.” For now.
See what I mean about the news bureau striking back?
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.
Will Hannity still be allowed to pursue the Kim Dotcom angle on his show tonight or is Fox management calling off the dogs entirely on this story? “We will continue to investigate this story and will provide updates as warranted,” they say at the end of their retraction statement. Presumably that’s his green light to keep going.
Update: Case in point, Hannity just tweeted this after the Fox retraction of the story that rekindled interest in Rich:
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 23, 2017