NEW YORK (AP) — The parents of a Democratic National Committee employee who was killed in 2016 have filed a federal lawsuit alleging Fox News exploited the slaying as a “political football.”
Joel and Mary Rich claim Fox News, a reporter and a guest commentator used “lies, misrepresentations and half-truths” in a May 16, 2017, article that claimed their son Seth Rich had leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign.
The network removed the story a week after it was posted, saying it was not initially subjected to its “high degree of editorial scrutiny.”
Rich, 27, was killed in what Washington police believe was a random robbery attempt.
The lawsuit claims that Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman and frequent network guest Ed Butowsky intentionally fabricated the story connecting Rich to Wikileaks. The story was heavily promoted by Fox News host Sean Hannity and other conservative pundits such as Alex Jones of Infowars.
Joel and Mary Rich said in a statement, “No parent should ever have to live through what we have been forced to endure. The pain and anguish that comes from seeing your murdered son’s life and legacy treated as a mere political football is beyond comprehension.”
Lead attorney Leonard A. Gail of Massey & Gail LLP said the Riches hope to hold Fox News, Zimmerman and Butowsky accountable for their “reprehensible actions.”
“Whether motivated by party politics, ratings, corporate profit, or personal gain, we hope to help prevent this kind of malicious and reckless behavior in the future so that others can be spared the hell the Riches have had to endure,” Gail said.
Fox News declined comment citing the pending litigation.
Butowsky told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he did not write the article connecting Rich to Wikileaks and that it was “baseless and frivolous” to name him in the lawsuit.