Fox News files motion to dismiss lawsuit over Seth Rich story

Fox News files motion to dismiss lawsuit over Seth Rich story
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Fox News is calling for the dismissal of a lawsuit filed earlier this year by one of its contributors, Rod Wheeler, who alleges that the network misrepresented his views in a story about slain Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich.

"[H]is defamation claim is itself founded on a falsehood," the network wrote Monday in its motion, calling on the court to halt the proceedings or dismiss the case altogether.

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"He made substantially the same statements on the air in several on-camera interviews, before and after the Fox News report, and even stated publicly that the article he now challenges as false 'was essentially correct and worthy of further investigation,' ” the network said of Wheeler, who filed the lawsuit against the network and investigative reporter Malia Zimmerman in early August.

Fox has pushed back on Wheeler's claims that he was misquoted in the story in an attempt to help President Trump “shift the blame from Russia and help put to bed speculation that President Trump colluded with Russia in an attempt to influence the outcome of the presidential election.”

A geyser of unproven conspiracy theories sprung from the news of Rich's death last summer, including one that suggested Rich was connected to WikiLeaks, an online site that published the hacked DNC emails during the 2016 presidential campaign. 

Wheeler was quoted in the story as saying that his investigation “shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks” and that “someone within the D.C. government, Democratic National Committee or Clinton team is blocking the investigation from going forward.”

Fox later pulled the story, saying it had not been "initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting."

The network also points out that Wheeler, a former D.C.-based homicide detective, is bound to an arbitration clause in his contract.

Rich's family repeatedly pushed back against such theories and appealed to hosts like Sean Hannity to drop the story — which he ultimately did.