The family of DNC staffer Seth Rich, who was likely killed in a botched robbery attempt, is suing Fox News and wealthy businessman Ed Butowsky for circulating a conspiracy theory about their son’s death. In May of 2017, Fox News aired a story sans evidence (and later retracted it) that claimed Rich had been the one to leak DNC emails to Wikileaks and had effectively framed Russia for the hacking, and his murder had been in retaliation.
The lawsuit names Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman, who worked with Butowsky to develop the story, which was repeatedly referenced on-air and left on the Fox News website before finally being retracted seven days later. Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler, the private investigator who was hired by Butowsky to dig into Rich’s death, previously filed a suit of his own alleging that the White House cooperated with Fox News on the story.
The lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeks compensation for “mental anguish and emotional distress, emotional pain and suffering, and any other physical and mental injuries.”
“No parent should ever have to live through what we have been forced to endure,” Joel and Mary Rich said in statement Tuesday night. “The pain and anguish that comes from seeing your murdered son’s life and legacy treated as a mere political football is beyond comprehension.”
The family’s attorney, Leonard A. Gail, said in a statement that Joel and Mary Rich intend to hold the defendants “accountable for their reprehensible actions” with the lawsuit. “Whether motivated by party politics, ratings, corporate profit, or personal gain, we hope to help prevent this kind of malicious and reckless behavior in the future so that others can be spared the hell the Riches have had to endure,” he continued.
UPDATE: Fox News has issued a brief statement: “We can’t comment on this pending litigation.”