To recap: No, Seth Rich, the 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer who was killed last summer in Washington, D.C., the victim of an apparent botched robbery, did not provide WikiLeaks with more than 44,000 DNC emails. (Those emails were hacked by Russians, according to U.S. intelligence agencies.) No, the Clintons did not have Rich murdered. And no, there hasnt been a sprawling political cover-up.
None of the salacious allegations that Fox News, with the help of a local affiliate, peddled this week were based in reality, as the GOP outlets tried to jump-start a dormant conspiracy theory about the murder victim. (For good debunkings of the sorry charade that unfolded this week, see here, here, and here.)
Its one thing to pile on politicians and other very public partisan figures, lobbing made-up allegations and trying to connect conspiratorial dots. But to try to destroy the memory of a staffer who met a violent death is really just gross.
What was particularly offensive about the Rich story this week was that it seemed like Fox was hyping the hollow tale as a way to avoid dealing with the unfolding meltdown at the White House this week. Desperate for a distraction and desperate not to acknowledge the news bombshells exploding around President Donald Trump, Fox opted to peddle bullshit concocted stories, based on shrouded, anonymous sources.
Not only that, but this investigator says there could be a cover-up. Wow, host Brian Kilmeade exclaimed Tuesday morning of the private investigator who claimed to a Fox affiliate that Rich had communicated with WikiLeaks (a point he later retracted). Meanwhile, on the Fox News website, the headline blared DC MURDER MYSTERY.
Hannity remains undeterred by the familys pleas as of Thursday, he was still devoting time on both his radio show and Fox News program to peddling conspiracies about Richs death, using it to undermine the idea that Russia was behind the DNC email hack. Apparently I care more about why this kid was murdered than you do, Hannity told his critics.
For instance, the push to politicize the death of the former U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was especially cruel. And the relentless, years-long smear campaign against Vince Foster and his legacy after the longtime friend of the Clintons committed suicide in 1993, helped define the Clinton Derangement Syndrome years of the 1990s.
In all three cases, the Rich, Stevens and Foster families begged conservatives to stop using their dead sons and brothers in a morbid and fact-free way to push their own partisan agendas. Basically, they beseeched conservatives to show a little decency and they were ignored.
Almost from the moment Stevens was killed in 2012, two things happened simultaneously: His family asked that his death not be politicized, and Fox News immediately began politicizing his death, using it as a cudgel to try to bludgeon both President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
That came in response to Trumps stunningly tasteless campaign rhetoric during a written speech attacking Hillary Clinton. Echoing years worth of Fox News Benghazi hysteria, Trump said, Her decisions spread death, destruction, and terrorism everywhere she touched, Trump said. Among the victims [was] our late ambassador, Chris Stevens. … He was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed.
Incredibly, Trump also discussed Vince Foster last year when the cable pundit-turned-candidate told The Washington Post that the circumstances of Fosters death were very fishy and that Foster knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide.
In 1993, Foster was the then-deputy White House counsel who committed suicide in Northern Virginias Fort Marcy Park, just outside of Washington, D.C. His death, which sparked controversy when conservatives accused the president and his wife of being part of a plot to murder their friend, quickly came to symbolize the outlandish and despicable claims that were at the center of the anti-Clinton campaigns during the 1990s. (Independent counsel Robert Fiskes 140-page report on Fosters death concluded definitively that Foster had killed himself and that he had depression.)
At the top of the Foster-feeding media pyramid stood Rush Limbaugh (A report … will be published that claims Vince Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton. … The Vince Foster suicide was not a suicide), The New York Times William Safire (What terrible secret drove Vincent foster, the Clintons personal lawyer, to a put a bullet in his head?), and Robert Bartleys team of editorial writers at The Wall Street Journal, who spent eight years lost in a clueless Clinton pursuit.