In July 2016, Seth Rich, a 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer, was shot and killed while walking home to his Washington apartment. A year and a half later, the case remains unsolved but city police maintain it was a botched robbery attempt.
That hasn’t stopped right-wing news outlets—eventually including Fox News—from latching onto Rich’s death and using it to peddle a totally unfounded conspiracy theory that Rich was killed because he leaked thousands of internal DNC emails to Wikileaks.
On Thursday, Rich’s parents spoke with ABC News about the pain Fox News’ coverage of the conspiracy theories around their son’s death caused them.
“We lost his body the first time. And the second time, we lost his soul,” Mary Rich, Seth’s mother, said, tearing up. “They took more from us with the lies.”
“They never called us to check any facts. They took a rumor and ran with it,” she also said.
The story first bubbled up from the right-wing fever swamps—from conspiracy websites like World Net Daily and Alex Jones’ InfoWars—directly into the Fox News bloodstream. Sean Hannity devoted multiple segments on his primetime show to the (completely fabricated) story, using his enormous platform to elevate a conspiracy theory about a young man’s tragic death.
Fox News was eventually forced to retract the story, but the Rich family told Good Morning America they never received an apology from the network for its misleading coverage. The Rich family is suing Fox News for “intentional infliction of emotional distress” in its coverage of their son’s murder.
Update, 10:35 am: A Fox News spokesperson told Splinter, “We can’t comment on this pending litigation.”