Liberal group targets Hannity advertisers over conspiracy theory

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A major liberal group is targeting advertisers for Sean Hannity’s Fox News show as they look to push back against his promotion of a conspiracy theory surrounding a killed Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer. 

Media watchdog group Media Matters For America on Tuesday published a list of Hannity’s advertisers — a long list that includes major companies such as Allstate, Angie’s List, Bayer, Capitol One, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Mercedes-Benz and Publishers Clearing House.

While the list was published with little context and no call to action, it comes as Media Matters continues to blast Hannity for claiming, without evidence, that Seth Rich leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks and suggesting that Democratic campaigns or groups were behind his killing.

{mosads}The group helped to spearhead a push to put pressure on former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s advertisers last month after reports that he had been accused of sexual harassment repeatedly. That pressure campaign ultimately led to O’Reilly’s departure from the network. 

The accusations about Rich’s death have been part of Hannity’s show and Twitter feed for days. On Twitter, he’s accused Democrats of scrambling to cover up proof and promoted a number of people siding with his theory. 

Hannity has drawn more recent scrutiny for promoting Kim Dotcom, a disgraced internet entrepreneur in New Zealand facing extradition to the U.S. on a slew of financial charges. Dotcom claims he can prove Rich’s ties to WikiLeaks. 

Critics have bristled at Hannity’s decision to double down on the theory without any hard evidence, and Rich’s brother asked Fox to cancel the interview in a letter obtained by CNN. 

“Nobody wants to solve Seth’s murder more than we do. However, providing a platform to spread potentially false, damaging information will cause us additional pain, suffering and sorrow,” Aaron Rich wrote. 

The conspiracy theory has swirled on the right for months, but a recent story by a Washington Fox affiliate fanned the flames, claiming an investigator hired by the family found evidence connecting Rich to WikiLeaks. 

The story was immediately debunked. The investigator recanted his comments, various media outlets have raised questions about its assertions and Fox News’s national website retracted its coverage of the story, saying it “was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require.” 


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