Fox News Channel announced on 23 May 2017 that it had retracted a debunked story alleging that murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich had leaked thousands of DNC emails to the document-dumping web site WikiLeaks before he was killed.
The statement read:
On May 16, a story was posted on the Fox News website on the investigation into the 2016 murder of DNC Staffer Seth Rich. The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed.
We will continue to investigate this story and will provide updates as warranted.
Brad Bauman, a spokesperson for Rich’s family, sent us the following statement regarding Fox’s retraction:
The family would like to thank Fox News for their retraction on a story that has caused deep pain and anguish to the family and has done harm to Seth Rich’s legacy. We are hopeful that in the future that Fox News will work with the family to ensure the highest degree of professionalism and scrutiny is followed so that only accurate facts are reported surrounding this case.
Rich, a staff member for the Democratic National Committee, was shot and killed in July 2016 in what Washington D.C. police classified as a botched robbery. Fox’s story promoted the claim that local police worked with Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office and federal investigators to cover up a connection between Rich and Wikileaks.
The network’s primary source for the story, network contributor Rod Wheeler, initially claimed that local police were told to “stand down.” Both police and Bowser’s office denounced Wheeler’s statements, and Bauman said in a separate statement that Wheeler — who described himself as a private investigator — was not authorized to speak on behalf of Rice’s family.
We contacted Fox News and asked whether it would acknowledge its online retraction on air. The network has yet to respond.