Family of slain DNC staffer Seth Rich sues Fox News for conspiracy theory story


(JTA) — The parents of Seth Rich, a Jewish Democratic National Committee staffer killed near his Washington, D.C., home in 2016, have sued Fox News for a story saying he was part of a conspiracy involving WikiLeaks.

The federal lawsuit, first reported by ABC News, which obtained a copy of the document, names Fox News, investigative reporter Malia Zimmerman and commenter Ed Butowsky as liable for the harm to their son’s reputation caused by the report.

The suit, which was filed Tuesday in Manhattan District Court by Joel and Mary Rich, accuses Zimmerman and Butowsky of contacting the family under false pretenses to support stories that their son leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks. It calls the final Fox News report “a sham story.”

Fox News retracted the story about a week after it ran, in late May 2017, in a statement that said it “was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting.”

“No parent should ever have to live through what we have been forced to endure,” Joel and Mary Rich said in a joint 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.”

Rich, 27, a Nebraska native, was shot dead while walking home before dawn on July 10, 2016. Police have speculated that he was the victim of a robbery gone awry. Rich’s body was found about a block from his home with his wallet, watch and cellphone still in his possession. His murder remains unsolved.

His death sparked several conspiracy theories.

Several days after Rich’s death, WikiLeaks dumped a collection of DNC emails that U.S. intelligence officers now say was related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of Rich’s killer.

Fox News told ABC News that it had yet to see the complaint and therefore would not comment.