The parents of Seth Rich are suing Fox News for a retracted story that shared a conspiracy theory about their son’s death. The Democratic National Committee staffer was murdered in 2016, during what police believed was a botched robbery attempt. According to the Chicago Tribune, his parents are claiming that the network “intentionally exploited” his tragic death.
Fox News picked up a conspiracy theory that had been circulating on alt-right forums and reported it as a story in 2017. The story alleged that Rich leaked thousands of DNC emails to WikiLeaks weeks before his death, implying that Rich was murdered over the emails that damaged Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. The assumed motivation for publishing the piece was to move attention away from any story about Russian collusion with the Trump campaign or Russian hacking involved in leaking Clinton's emails.
The story fell apart as the FBI pointed out that "evidence" from the agency included in the story did not exist. Another source in the story claimed that Fox fabricated his quote and is suing for defamation. As the credibility of the story crumbled, Fox had no choice but to retract the story six days after it was published.
In a statement provided to Complex, Fox News wrote: "We can't comment on this pending litigation."
Even though the story was retracted, Rich’s parents claim that Fox’s false report still haunts them. Their son’s memory became wrapped up in a conspiracy theory, and they are seeking damages for emotional distress. “No parent should ever have to live through what we have been forced to endure," Joel and Mary Rich said in a statement obtained by the Tribune. "The pain and anguish that comes from seeing your murdered son's life and legacy treated as a mere political football is beyond comprehension."