The family of Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer who was fatally shot last July, is demanding retractions from Fox News and WTTG-TV on Wednesday for their inaccurate reports on the unsolved murder, a spokesman for the family told CNN Wednesday.
“The family is officially asking for a retraction and an apology from Fox News and from the Fox 5 DC affiliate for inaccurate reporting and damaging the legacy of their son,” spokesman Brad Bauman said.
This week, both Fox News and WTTG-TV published and aired reports, sourced to private investigator Rod Wheeler, that said evidence showed Rich had been in contact with Wikileaks before his death. Wheeler later told CNN he had no such evidence and that he had, in fact, only heard of some information attributed to him from a Fox News reporter with whom he spoke.
A FoxNews.com story on the case also cited a “federal source” who said the FBI had conducted a forensic analysis of Rich’s computer and discovered thousands of emails with Wikileaks. But a law enforcement official told CNN that the FBI never had possession of Rich’s laptop and did not conduct a forensic analysis of its contents.
Neither Fox News nor WTTG-TV have issued corrections to their reports.
Refet Kaplan, managing director of Fox News digital, said in a statement provided to CNN that the outlet continues to “track developments in the story and will update further when the situation warrants.”
Multiple requests for comment made to WTTG-TV were not returned.
Bauman said that if Fox News and WTTG-TV do not take action, the family will.
“They need to retract the story or issue an apology or the family will consider other options, including legal, to clear their son’s name and get Fox to do what’s right,” he told CNN.
Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, which continues to investigate the murder, says there is evidence to suggest Rich was the victim of a botched robbery.
But for months, right-wing media outlets have floated unproven theories that Rich was the person who provided Wikileaks thousands of internal DNC emails, and that his death might have been connected with the supposed leak. No real evidence has been provided to support such claims.
— CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz contributed reporting.