We hope you’re sitting down for this: Fox News is being sued… and it’s NOT for sexual harassment!
No, the latest legal trouble to plague the network is about Donald Trump‘s favorite subject: fake news.
In case you haven’t heard the story of how a young Democratic National Committee staffer named Seth Rich was the one who gave the DNC info to WikiLeaks, good — because it’s complete bullshit.
Even Fox retracted the story after a week, after a groundswell of offense — see, Rich was murdered tragically young and was unable to defend himself. Of course, right wing conspiracy theorists used this as part of the narrative; he must have been murdered by the evil Democrats.
Disgusting. Fox News tarnished the name of a dead man for what? Ratings? Nope.
According to a new lawsuit filed on Tuesday, it was about distracting the American public from the Russia investigation — and at least one person involved said TRUMP SIGNED OFF ON IT.
Former police detective and sometime Fox News paid commentator Rod Wheeler claims in his suit that the story was knowingly fabricated by a reporter named Malia Zimmerman and a wealthy Trump supporter named Ed Butowsky to “establish that Seth Rich provided WikiLeaks with the DNC emails to shift the blame from Russia.”
Butowsky openly admits he reached out to Rich’s parents and convinced them to let him hire Wheeler to investigate the murder. But according to the lawsuit, it was NOT to find the truth, but because they already had the story planned and wanted a credible source:
“Specifically, it was their aim to have Mr. Wheeler confirm that: Seth Rich was responsible for the leak of DNC emails to WikiLeaks; and Seth Rich was murdered by a Democrat operative because he leaked the emails to WikiLeaks.”
Wheeler and Butowsky even met with Sean Spicer to give him updates on the investigation; Spicer admits the meeting took place but says the President didn’t know about it. But that’s not what Butowsky said at the time. In a text message sent to Wheeler at the time, Butowsky explicitly refers to Trump approving the story:
Butowsky now claims he was kidding about the President’s involvement.
Interesting how often they use that excuse, isn’t it? That same excuse cyber bullies and Twitter trolls always use. Huh.
BTW, there are also voicemails available with the same confirmations. He doesn’t sound like he’s “kidding.”
If this is true, the President is partially responsible not just for spreading fake news but for CREATING it.
When Wheeler didn’t give Butowsky exactly what he wanted, the lawsuit says, Zimmerman wrote up the article with fake quotes from Wheeler, including:
“My investigation up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and Wikileaks.”
This article and these quotes became the basis of Fox News’ reporting on the story. According to the lawsuit, Butowsky had a hand in that as well, coaching the hosts of Fox and Friends on how to talk about it.
Afterward Wheeler came out against Fox News, saying he had been misquoted. Eventually the network had no choice but to retract.
Even though Fox News pulled the story, which appears to have no basis in fact, Butowsky kept it going. He tweeted:
“Fox News story was pulled b/c Rod Wheeler said [he] didn’t say a quote … How much did DNC pay him?”
Of course. Because anyone who denies the story is part of the coverup.
Now Wheeler is suing over the tarnishing of his name. According to the suit:
“Wheeler was subsequently forced to correct the false record and, as a result, lost all credibility in the eyes of the public. Mr. Wheeler has suffered irreparable damage to his reputation and his career will likely never recover.”
Well, he’s right about that. And yet somehow Zimmerman is still working on stories for Fox News…
The troubled network is already defending itself against the claims. President of news Jay Wallace released a statement saying:
“The accusation that FoxNews.com published Malia Zimmerman’s story to help detract from coverage of the Russia collusion issue is completely erroneous. 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.”
So was Trump a part of all this? Was he willing to spread false information to distract from his own political problems, to blame a murder victim to defend himself?
Well, we are talking about a man who takes money from children’s cancer charities, so it’s not the greatest leap.
[Image via FoxNews.]