In a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Seth Rich's parents, Fox News says some readers may have walked away from its retracted story believing Seth Rich was a hero because its story portrayed him as a patriotic whistleblower pic.twitter.com/Q8Q6QSR1PJ— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) May 8, 2018
In response to the lawsuit filed by former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich’s family, Fox News called for its dismissal because, it claims, the network portrayed the late Rich as a hero.
Rich’s family sued Fox News earlier this year after they reported a conspiracy theory regarding the former DNC staffer’s death. The suit said the report inflicted emotional trauma on the family in a time of grief.
The president’s favorite network has come back with a rebuttal.
The response to the lawsuit said they could not have inflicted emotional trauma because they hailed Rich as a “hero.”
“Although Plaintiffs assert that the Fox News article caused them pain, other readers might well consider their son to be a hero,” the brief argued. “Far from condemning Seth Rich for the purported leak, the Fox News article portrayed him as a whistleblower who released the DNC emails to expose that ‘top party officials conspired to stop Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont from becoming the party’s presidential nominee.'”
The defense of the callous reporting was furthered after the statement said the article could not have tarnished Rich’s reputation because it featured “a photo of Rich in an American flag ensemble above the cutline: ‘Rich was fiercely patriotic, say family members.’ That readers could take markedly different views of Rich’s alleged leak underscores that Plaintiffs cannot satisfy the outrageousness element as a matter of law.”
Police had already ruled Rich’s death a result of a robbery gone wrong, when a Fox Business Network commentator Ed Butowsky contacted Rich’s parents to hire Rod Wheeler, a Fox News contributor and former detective, to investigate the murder themselves.
Wheeler broke the confidentiality agreement and provided his investigative findings to Fox News, who later published a report connecting Rich’s death to DNC emails published by the Wikileaks.
Wheelers’ claims in the report, published by Fox News, held no substance since months before he started the investigation the U.S. intelligence community had stated that it was “confident” that the email leaks were a result of Russian hacking and not due to someone leaking information from inside the party.
The conspiracy theory holds popularity among conservatives who believe Russian interference did not take place during the 2016 presidential elections.
Fox News previously retracted the piece on Rich because it did not meet its “high degree of editorial scrutiny” but in the latest brief they again defended the article saying it was a report on an issue of “public concern.”
“Fox News’ reporter had a clear journalistic purpose for seeking information from Wheeler: A news story concerning a leak of DNC emails that may have affected a presidential election, as well as an unsolved murder that might have been related to that leak. This was classic ‘reporting on an issue of public concern,’ and there is no basis whatsoever to suggest that any purpose, much less the sole purpose, was to harm the parents of the murder victim,” the brief stated.
Thumbnail/Banner credits: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson