Fox News announced Tuesday it is retracting a story published last week that reignited conspiracy theories around the unsolved killing of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, whose family demanded an apology from the conservative news network.
Fox News, citing a single unnamed FBI source, had reported that Rich, who was murdered last year in Washington, D.C., was a potential source of internal DNC emails published by Wikileaks last summer, implying that he was then assassinated for the leak. The report immediately caught fire among supporters of President Donald Trump as a preferable alternative explanation to the one put forward by U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials, who have always maintained that Russian hackers were behind the breach. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich amplified the conspiracy theory on Fox News Sunday. But no one did more to advance the theory for which there’s no evidence than Fox’s Sean Hannity, who devoted multiple segments on his show to the issue as it took off on conservative blogs and talk radio.
Rich’s brother wrote a letter to Hannity’s executive producer this week asking him to stop. On Tuesday, Fox retracted the story. “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,” Fox News said in a statement posted online. The statement did not include an apology to Rich’s family or any admission of regret.