Fox News Retracts Story on Murder of Political Aide

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Fox News yesterday retracted linking the murder of a Democratic National Committee staff member with the email hacks that aided President Trump’s campaign, effectively quashing a conspiracy theory that had taken hold across the right-wing news media, the New York Times reports. It was a rare acknowledgment of error by the network. It also underscored a schism between the Fox news-gathering operation and one of its biggest stars: the conservative commentator Sean Hannity, who has unapologetically promoted the theory and remained defiant. Hannity said, “All you in the liberal media — I am not Fox.com or FoxNews.com. I retracted nothing.”

The story of the murdered aide, Seth Rich, who was 27 when he was shot in the back near his Washington, D.C., home in July, has been seized on by Hannity and other right-wing pundits as an alternative narrative to the cascade of damaging revelations about the Trump administration’s ties to Russian officials who meddled in the presidential election. Citing unnamed sources, Fox News’s website suggested last week that Rich’s death was in retaliation for his sharing Democratic National Committee emails with WikiLeaks. It was a theory that, if true, would undercut the notion of Russian political interference and, in turn, offer cover for Trump. No evidence to support that theory has emerged, and the Washington Metropolitan Police Department is still investigating Rich’s death. Rich’s family, believing he was murdered during a failed robbery, has called for retractions from news organizations that promoted the story. “The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting,” the network said. “The article was found not to meet those standards, and has since been removed.”

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