Seth Rich, a 27-year-old staffer for the Democratic National Committee, was shot to death outside his home in July of 2016, igniting a frenzy of conspiracy theories about the circumstances around his death, and his family isn’t having any of it.
On Tuesday, Fox News and other right-wing outlets published claims from a private investigator hired by a third party that Rich made contact with Wikileaks before his death, information that seems to feed the conspiracy that Rich was killed by agents of the Democratic party to stop him testifying against then-candidate Hillary Clinton. Since his death, Rich’s family has been adamant that Rich’s death was a tragic crime unconnected to his work at the DNC, and has not minced words when describing outlets that attempt to politicize his death.
“It’s sad but unsurprising that a group of media outlets who have repeatedly lied to the American people would try and manipulate the legacy of a murder victim in order to forward their own political agenda,” Brad Bauman, a spokesman for the Rich family, told Business Insider. “I think there is a special place in hell for people like that.”
Rich’s story shot back into the conservative media headlines after a private investigator, Rod Wheeler, who was hired by an anonymous third-party to investigate Rich’s death, told local outlet Fox 5 that Rich had contact with Wikileaks before he was killed. On Tuesday, Fox News devoted a morning segment and published an article based on Wheeler’s claims, which the Rich family says are “unsubstantiated” in a statement:
Even if tomorrow, an email was found, it is not a high enough bar of evidence to prove any interactions as emails can be altered and we’ve seen that those interested in pushing conspiracies will stop at nothing to do so.
We are a family who is committed to facts, not fake evidence that surfaces every few months to fill the void and distract law enforcement and the general public from finding Seth’s murderers. The services of the private investigator who spoke to press was offered to the Rich family and paid for by a third party, and contractually was barred from speaking to press or anyone outside of law enforcement or the family unless explicitly authorized by the family.”
Rich’s story went viral again the morning after the Washington Post revealed that President Donald Trump told Russian diplomats highly classified information obtained by a confidential intelligence partner.
On Reddit’s /r/the_donald, one of the internet’s biggest pro-Trump forums, the vast majority of posts today include alleged details on the Rich case. None of the posts include a discussion on Trump’s decision to reveal classified intelligence to one of America’s largest geopolitical rivals.