The Trump White House, is, apparently, willing to go to any lengths to get the Russia scandal to go away. (In a feat of incompetence, it’s evidently never occurred to them to just be forthcoming about the whole thing, if they really have nothing to hide.)
The Trump administration has now been busted as being complicit in a literal fake news story peddled earlier this year by Fox News, which was peddled as part of an intense but ultimately unsuccessful effort to distract the public from the Russia investigation.
Remember Seth Rich? Rich, a DNC staffer, was shot dead in mid-2016 outside his Washington, D.C., home. His murder case remains open, and numerous internet conspiracy theorists have ran with the idea that it wasn’t Russia after all who leaked DNC emails to the press — it was Rich. This supposed fact, internet conspiracy theorists say, is why Rich was murdered in what they allege was a targeted hit.
For those kind of absurd, baseless claims to pop up on random Facebook pages is one thing, but earlier this year, Fox News picked up the story. As a new lawsuit lays bare, however, Fox didn’t pick up the story out of the natural progression of their journalistic endeavors. Rather, a well connected Trump supporting investor named Edward Butowsky is behind the story.
With the promise of payment, Butowsky got Fox News contributor Ed Wheeler to take up the case of Rich’s death, but now Wheeler has filed a lawsuit against Butowsky and against Fox News for allegedly using him “as a pawn.”
Wheeler’s lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, told NPR:
‘Rod Wheeler unfortunately was used as a pawn by Ed Butowsky, Fox News and the Trump administration to try and steer away the attention that was being given about the Russian hacking of the DNC e-mails.’
About a month before the story that Butowsky had Wheeler working on actually ran, Wheeler’s lawsuit says that he and Butowsky met with none other than White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to discuss their findings.
Butowsky eventually claimed to Wheeler that he had been in contact with the president himself about the Rich story, but he now claims he was “joking” about the Trump connection. Still, he did meet with Sean Spicer and is seemingly lying about the thrust of that meeting, saying it was about a job offer for Wheeler not about the Rich story, so there isn’t necessarily any reason to believe him that he was just “joking.”
This isn’t even where it ends. There was never anything to the Rich story, and Wheeler alleges that Fox News journalists literally made up things that he’d never said in order to beef up their story.
As a separate issue from the Trump administration’s involvement in all of this, it’s telling as to the lack of legitimacy at Fox News that the only result of the Rich story ever getting off the ground is one retraction. When CNN published a story that erroneously connected Anthony Scaramucci to a Russian investment fund, the response from inside CNN was so intense that three leading journalists who had something to do with the story resigned. Fox, apparently, has a much weaker “moral compass.”
Fox is just that desperate to gain points with the president, so they are happy to push fake news stories that serve his agenda of trying to erase all indications he ever did anything wrong.
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