Lawsuit Alleges Fox News Fabricated Quotes in Seth Rich Story

Rod Wheeler Fox News
Screenshot/FoxNews

A private investigator who was put at the center of a controversial report on the death of a murdered Democratic National Committee operative is alleging he was placed there against his will by employees of Fox News Channel.

Rod Wheeler isn’t the world’s most famous gumshoe, but his name became associated earlier this year with a now-retracted online report from Fox News Channel that used comments from Wheeler alleging Seth Rich, a DNC employee who was killed in Washington, D.C. last July, was linked to a leak of DNC emails by Wikileaks. Wheeler, who had made an appearance on Fox affiilate WTTG about the situation, subsequently told CNN he had no evidence to support the claims. Fox News host Sean Hannity, who had been discussing the Seth Rich theories on his primetime Fox News program, said in May that he would “cease” talking about the case out of respect for the victim’s family, though he would continue to investigate the matter.

Now, a complaint filed Tuesday by Wheeler in United States District Court in the Southern District of New York threatens to spark new conversation.

In the complaint, Wheeler alleges “Fox News was working with the Trump administration to disseminate fake news in order to distract the public from Russia’s alleged attempts to influence our Country’s presidential election,” according to his attorney, Douglas Wigdor. Wigdor serves as attorney in several current cases alleging harassment or discrimination by Fox News Channel executives.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied that the White House had influence over the story. “The President had no knowledge of the story,” she said at a Tuesday briefing.

The lawsuit alleges Ed Butowsky and Malia Zimmerman, a Fox News contributor and journalist, respectively, “fabricated two quotations and attributed them to Mr. Wheeler,” and included them in the now retracted article.

“Mr. Wheeler — who was the only named source quoted in the article — did not make these statements,” the lawsuit alleges. Instead, the suit says, “Zimmerman, Butowsky and Fox had created fake news to advance President Trump’s agenda.” Wheeler “was subsequently forced to correct the false record, and, as a result, lost all credibility in the eyes of the public.”

The original Fox News posting on the matter lent momentum to right-wing outlets including Breitbart and The Drudge Report, which had suggested with items and links, but little credible evidence, that Rich could have been killed for the leak of DNC emails during last year’s presidential campaign, an act that has largely been attributed to Russian interference.

“The accusation that FoxNews.com published Malia Zimmerman’s story to help detract from coverage of the Russia collusion issue is completely erroneous,” said Jay Wallace, president of news at Fox News Channel, in a statement. “The retraction of this story is still being investigated internally and we have no evidence that Rod Wheeler was misquoted by Zimmerman. Additionally, Fox News vehemently denies the race discrimination claims in the lawsuit — the dispute between Zimmerman and Rod Wheeler has nothing to do with race.”

In the complaint, Wheeler seeks damages to be determined at trial to compensate him for mental anguish and emotional distress, and loss of earnings from his job.

The DNC on Tuesday condemned anyone who might plant fake news items of the sort alleged in the complaint. “If these allegations are true, it is beyond vile that the White House – and possibly even Trump himself – would use the murder of a young man to distract the public’s attention from their chaotic administration and Trump’s ties to Russia. The Rich family has begged those responsible for these conspiracies to stop. And yet, Trump’s allies have ignored their pain and their pleas, degrading the office of the president by spreading repulsive lies,” said Xochitl Hinojosa, DNC Communications Director, in a statement.  “This should outrage any decent human being. There is no excuse for the suffering that Trump’s associates and their conspirators at FOX have caused the Rich family and those closest to him. Both parties should denounce these sick and twisted tactics.”

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  1. TR says:

    Sounds like someone is trying to get money/attention. Someone smells crooked.

  2. Afterlife Jedi says:

    Roger Stone, subject of the documentary, Get me Roger Stone, has uncovered evidence that Set Rich spent his last night partying with Deborah Wasserman Schultz’s disgraced IT guy from Pakistan, Imran Awan. Is that more fake news, or a unexpected twist in Debbie’s panties?

  3. Marcus says:

    Fox calls itself a news channel and though there’s some of that it’s mostly opinions and comemtery. In MSNBCs defense they call themselves
    “a place for politics”
    Their more honest about what they are.

  4. Marcus says:

    As a liberal who voted for the Clintons I would not argue against them being scoundrels, they are but just not murderous scoundrels.
    I can’t think of any presidents that haven’t been scoundrels in modern times other than Obama and perhaps Eisenhower

  5. Lalo says:

    The month is August anybody talking about Russia still, is Jumping the Shark. Right now the world is getting sick of hearing it and will not trust them as a viable news or media Outlet

  6. Jordan Davis says:

    Fox News is nothing but a propaganda machine for Trump and the republican party. There is nothing fair and balanced about it. That said, CNN is nothing but a propaganda machine for Obama when he was Prez and for Clinton. There is no such thing as neutral news in the USA anymore.

  7. Jared K. says:

    Seth Rich was murdered. There was no evidence in his murder. Wikileaks has basically stated that the leaker was not a state party and mentioned Seth Rich immediately after talking about the dangers and reasons they keep identities of their leakers under wraps. The police say it was an attempted robbery, yet nothing was taken from his body. At that point you could say it was an attempted alien invasion. There’s no proof of anything.

  8. Steve Barr says:

    I see by the comments that the Trump cockroaches have come out from under their rocks . They like Trump are human garbage and need to be thrown upon the trash heap of history which is what is happening now even as I write this .

  9. john franz says:

    Time for some more resignations at Fox News. Sean Hannity should be first. He reported a story that he probably knew was fake. At the very least they should run a statement at the beginning of every show that the following is for entertainment only and should never be taken as real.

    • TR says:

      All the liberals came out to talk over something they don’t know. I love it because they are helping us. You guys do relize people read the stupid things you say and think what an idiot. Liberals keep losing and they keep crying. Love it! Keep talking because when you know nothing and speak it does not hurt, we laugh at you. Liberals are the biggest laughing stock….

    • Jordan Davis says:

      Sean Hannity has no credibility. So obvious he is Trump’s mouthpiece. The few times I watched his show, all he did is whine the entire hour.

    • Jared K. says:

      Like the entire russia conspiracy theory that led to nowhere but was reported non stop by the msm for the better part of a year? you are idiotic my friend

  10. Becker says:

    My my….. there are a WHOLE BUNCH of Soviets on this comment list!

  11. Marcus says:

    Hillary did win by 3 million votes.
    Those that rail against fake news are the creators of fake news

    • AmandaSue2 says:

      Won by 3 million, did she? The city of Los Angeles has a population of about 4 million people…sooooo, what you’re saying is: She won by less votes than the population of one city in America.

      • cadavra says:

        And Trump “won” by 77,000 votes, which is less than the seating capacity of the Rose Bowl.

    • Elaine says:

      Considering there are more than 10 million illegal aliens in united states, that number did not impressive.

      • Marcus says:

        So she kinda sorta won and Trump kinda sorta won. As long as only 50% Americans vote we get what we deserve

      • okpkpkp says:

        That number did not impressive? That number did not impressive? That number did not impressive? That number did not impressive? 10 million (actually there are 11 million) illegal aliens did not vote. There is no voter fraud. THAT is fake news. Wake up and grow up, Elaine.

  12. bob says:

    you must be talking about CNN or MSNBC …..

    • Gavroche says:

      Voter fraud has been well documented, whatever your wishful thinking may desire, and there are many millions more illegals than 11, the number that has been stated for 30 years. Honestly, you think the number’s been static all these years? And no, they are not leaving, and no, illegal crossings are NOT down by 70%. Simply saying something does not make it true. Very little has been done to restore enforcement of current immigration laws, and sanctuary cities still flourish.

    • TR says:

      It’s not fake news. Illegals do vote dumbass and several democrats have been investigated in voter fraud..

  13. BigDng says:

    Does CNN and Huffpo get sued everyday? At least this accusation originated with the WikiLinks founder, who has been right on just about everything, so far.

  14. As if this were the only transgression of bogus news, sensationalism, hyperbole, amplification, specious “facts”, double speak, manipulation, venality, evasion, counterfeit and propaganda that Pox News ever committed. It’s as old as Pox itself, which soon after its birth created a lot of static as the unofficial mouthpiece of the Republican’t party. There were indeed sources of smoke in Clinton World, but try as it might Pox never videotaped any actual fire of corruption or malfeasance. Travelgate and Vincent Foster. Whitewater and who the hell remembers all of the crap they hurled against the wall? Then the Obama birther noise, the “terrorist fist bump”, born in Kenya, blah blah blah. Guttural, devious Ailes brain farts that never counted as news because they never WERE news. Media enlightenment? Public information? The Other Side? Doubtful that those matters were much more than elaborate electronic window dressing for the ulterior agenda of greasing the rails for the usurpation of power and screwing the voters out of informed consent and control of their own damn country. It helped mightily in ’00 (evangelicals!), ’04 (Swiftboat!) and ’16 (lock her up!). However, it’s been a well-wrapped but tacit admission that one half of the nation can’t win on the articulation of ideas alone, so it resorts to cheating and deception in the guise of fairness and balance. If you think we’re better off after 43 and 45, raise your hand.

  15. Toni says:

    Who is funding n Korea. China and Russia. We better cut off imports immediately and get the industries here, we are making china rich with our money and they are using our money funding n Korea weapons. Why hasn’t china and Russia stepped up to get rid of n Korea weapons.
    Just as gutless as not going after
    Seth rich coverup /soros violence.

  16. Tony says:

    Anyone else find it funny that now Debbie wasserman Schulz IT is getting some spotlight her colluded in the media are trying to deflect

    • Sam says:

      Why what reason does the media have
      for covering up this new story about
      Schultz IT.
      The act of destroying public records is treason and a felony.
      Where’s the follow up on Clinton criminal family foundation investigation. Oh no the gov wastes our money on a fabricated scam Russia.

  17. Edge says:

    Let’s see the evidence from Wheeler showing collusion between Trump’s administration and Hannity. Or is this more baseless accusations with ZERO evidence like the entire Russian collusion narrative? Quit bending over for the lying MSM and get off your butts, do the work, and look for the evidence supporting it yourselves.

    THERE IS NO EVIDENCE.

    Meanwhile, your tax dollars are being wasted to drive the Russian narrative down our throats. Without evidence, aren’t you wondering WHY this is happening?

    With even an iota of effort, it becomes clear the DNC’si strategy is to distract the public from its real crimes and deceptions including HRC selling off American uranium to Putin in exchange for speaking contracts for Bill in Moscow through the Clinton Foundation.

    Dig into the arrests associated with The Clinton Foundation’s participation in child trafficking in Haiti. It’s no surprise that Haitian’s hate the Clintons.

    And then there is Debbie Wasserman Schultz paying the highest amount allowable to a twenty-something year old kid and his brothers from Pakistan to manage all of the servers and cellphones in Congress … now recently arrested at the airport after smashing all of the servers and attempting to flee back to Pakistan. What are they hiding now?

    And let’s not forget the massive collusion and corruption found in HRC’s emails. Ah yes, the emails. The DNC wants you to be concerned with who “hacked the emails” rather than the actual substance of them.

    Meanwhile, there are dozens of pissed off Bernie supporters who are on the ground making most of the headway in the Seth Rich case which leads right back to the DNC.

    RUSSIAN COLLUSION. This is how the Democrats think they’re going to get back into office? We’re witnessing the dying last gasps of a party that is fast becoming irrelevant … propped up by a lying press establishment.

    No, I don’t get my information from Fox News or any other right-wing conservative outfit. Thanks for playing anyway.

    Anyone who isn’t pissed off at the state of our government right now (and for a long time) isn’t doing their research. I only hope you have no children.

    • Melanie Miller says:

      You are so right.

    • patrick says:

      Where do you people get this garbage? As the other response provides the details, this MYTH seems to be unshakable in weak minds. Just because you want it to be, doesn’t make it so.

    • “The Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia”
      Trump significantly distorts the uranium deal in question by calling it “the Bill and Hillary deal.”
      In 2010, Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, was one of nine federal agency heads to sign off on Russia’s purchase of a controlling stake in Uranium One, an international mining company headquartered in Canada with operations in several U.S. states. It was part of a regular process for approving international deals involving strategic assets, such as uranium, that could have implications for national security. Uranium One’s U.S. mines produced about 11 percent of the country’s total uranium production in 2014, according to Oilprice.com.
      But even with its control of Uranium One, Russia cannot export the material from the United States. Russia was likely more interested in Uranium One’s assets in Kazakhstan, the world’s largest uranium producer.
      As PolitiFact and others have detailed, some investors with an interest in making the Uranium One deal go through have a long-time relationship with Bill Clinton and have donated to the Clinton Foundation. But there’s no concrete evidence those relationships or donations helped make the deal go through. Most of the donations occurred before Hillary Clinton could have known she would become secretary of state. And again, the secretary of state was one of nine agency heads that had input into the final decision, which ultimately lay with President Barack Obama.

  18. Sam says:

    Yah well then let’s reveal the police evidence and the surv tapes to the public.
    It’s all been hidden for some reason from the public.
    Now we have a new conflict with hidden info and destroyed comp about lynch.
    Somebody is getting paid

    • Marco Colo says:

      When I had mine, I can assure you, I did not raise them like donald trump, or scam-erucci have raised theirs. Instead I raised them to be descent human beings, with emphasis to dignity and in contributing to humanity.

    • Silent Velcro says:

      Where’s Rich’s laptop? Why is the FBI involved in a “local, garden variety homicide”?

  19. J Russ says:

    The Republican Party and their supporters and enablers have become the nations Party of serial liars

    • beth says:

      Have you forgotten the Youtube videos of CNN, NBC, and New York Times all showing Hillary winning? lying to your face? Or Hillary in a hail of machine gun fire as she landed – but didn’t? How Bill didn’t have sex with Lewinsky but blew his load on her blue dress? 33,0000 missing emails from a rogue email server in Hillarys basement? The DNC is ready to implode, lmao.

  20. heyitsron says:

    Yes the “leaks” would and did make for exciting news reporting. So we want to dispell the notion that Seth was (no, died–we don’t want that “was” word, do we?)…we want to focus on Russian and not any reasons Seth may have gone too soon in life and left us. Be interesting to see how this plays out in court. And Sean is a good soldier. He does and doesn’t do what he’s told. And we all know that “respect for the family” is not news reporting. Never has been, never will be. But it covers a variety of sins.

  21. ST says:

    Wow. Good timing. Took it down just as I posted. Much better.

  22. Toni's mom says:

    Back in your bed, Toni. It’s your brother’s turn tonight and you know he doesn’t like to be kept waiting.

  23. john franz says:

    Hey bob, are all you right wingers racists? Yes you are…

  24. Silent Velcro says:

    Who pays their IT guy $4 Million? Unless the Awans were just the middle men funding the wet work for Wasserman (the Israelis), the Clintons and the DNC.

  25. Toni says:

    You sicko.

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