Rod Wheeler has sued Fox News for, allegedly, falsely quoting him in order to give more credibility to a Trump-endorsed report about murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich designed to take the heat off Trump about Russia.
You may recall that in May, Fox News retracted what was never more than a conspiracy theory, that Rich had been in suspicious contact with Wikileaks - thus suggesting that Rich, not Russia, was the source of hacked DNC material provided to Wikileaks. Fox’s retraction occurred after Rich’s family pleaded with Fox to stop exploiting the tragedy.
Wheeler, a Fox News contributor and a former detective who had been employed to investigate the case, was quoted in the original article as saying that his investigation found that Rich had been communicating with Wikileaks and that “someone within the D.C. government, Democratic National Committee or Clinton team” was blocking the murder investigation.
Wheeler now claims that Fox fabricated those statements as part of its collusion with the White House during a time Trump was feeling a lot of pressure over the Russia investigation. Wheeler’s beef is that Fox has refused to clear his name. But for the rest of us, the bombshell is that the complaint (below) alleges that the quotes were “falsely attributed to Mr. Wheeler because that is the way the President wanted the article.”
NPR’s David Folkenflik did an excellent deep dive:
The lawsuit focuses particular attention on the role of ... Trump supporter, Ed Butowsky, in weaving the story. He is a wealthy Dallas investor and unpaid Fox commentator on financial matters who has emerged as a reliable Republican surrogate in recent years. Butowsky offered to pay for Wheeler to investigate the death of the DNC aide, Seth Rich, on behalf of his grieving parents in Omaha, Neb.
On April 20, a month before the story ran, Butowsky and Wheeler — the investor and the investigator — met at the White House with then-press secretary Sean Spicer to brief him on what they were uncovering.
The first page of the lawsuit quotes a voicemail and text from Butowsky boasting that President Trump himself had reviewed drafts of the Fox News story just before it went to air and was published.
Spicer now tells NPR that he took the meeting as a favor to Butowsky, a reliable Republican voice. Spicer says he was unaware of any contact involving the president. Butowsky now tells NPR that he was kidding about Trump’s involvement.
“Rod Wheeler unfortunately was used as a pawn by Ed Butowsky, Fox News and the Trump administration to try and steer away the attention that was being given about the Russian hacking of the DNC e-mails,” said Douglas Wigdor, Wheeler’s lawyer.
As The Washington Post’s Mark Berman noted, NPR’s reporting reveals that Spicer confirmed, on the record, that he was briefed on the fake news before it was published.
Meanwhile, listen to Folkenflik explain the story below, with recordings of relevant phone conversations, on the August 1, 2017 Morning Edition, via NPR. You can also read the complaint in full underneath.
(Wheeler image via screen grab)
This latest scandal will be bigger than the sexual harassment lawsuits because it involves Cheating Trumpster and certain mouthpieces employed at this so-called “news” network.
Coming down the pipeline:
1. Another round of firings at Fox “News” Channel.
2. A big name mouthpiece is implicated in a major scandal.
3. More lawsuits filed against Fox “News” Channel and parent company, 21st Century Fox.
4. Fox “News” to lose billions of dollars.
NOTE TO MASSES
Go on every talk radio and television show around the country, and discuss the weak leadership, a.k.a. Murdoch boys, at Fox “News” Channel. Talk about how they let a certain well-known host get away with anything on his show.
NOTE TO MURDOCHS
The evidence is strong in the Wheeler lawsuit. Text, notes and audio backs his claim. Also, Fox “News” employees will spill the beans on what is going on at this evil network.
I caught much of Harris Faulkner this afternoon and she was crickets on the topic.
Does this mean on tonight’s show Sean will be interviewing himself for a Republican group hug, rehab segment? Enquiring minds want to know.