Last July, Seth Rich, a staffer for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), was found dead of a gunshot wound. His murderer remains at large.
Between the lack of closure and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange offering a $20,000 reward for the capture of Rich's killer, a theory has emerged: Rich was Assange's source for the DNC's email archive.
Assange further fanned the flames in an interview with Nieuwsuur in the Netherlands, claiming that Rich was one of WikiLeaks' sources. Thusly, the idea spread like wildfire. It was still going strong on Tuesday when WTTG-TV, a Fox owned-and-operated station in Washington, D.C., opened its newscast with a feature on Rich and WikiLeaks.
WTTG spoke to Rod Wheeler, the Rich family's private investigator, who said Seth had been in touch with WikiLeaks. CNN learned, however, that Wheeler found that out from a FoxNews.com reporter who interviewed him. Wheeler told CNN his intention was just to preview that story. Meanwhile, Fox News on cable also picked up the scoop.
The local police had long considered the case a robbery gone wrong. Now, especially in light of a law enforcement source telling CNN that the Fox News claim about the FBI having Rich's laptop — much less finding emails to WikiLeaks on it — are not true, the Rich family is demanding a retraction from Fox News.
“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,” said family spokesman Brad Bauman. Without a retractions or apology, they will “consider other options, including legal, to clear their son's name.”
CNN's requests for comment from both Fox News and WTTG were not returned.