After smearing murder victim Seth Rich as the leaker of DNC material to WikiLeaks in 2016, and refusing to apologize for it, Fox News has now settled with his parents for what I hope was a very large sum.
Through their attorneys, Rich’s parents said they “are pleased with the settlement” and that they “now look forward to devoting as much time and energy as we can to family and to preserving Seth's memory as a blessing."
"The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting," the network's statement read. "Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards."
At that time, Fox News's unsigned statement did not apologize or specify what went wrong. The network promised to continue to investigate the story and provide updates. No public sign of an investigation or update ensued. Hannity told viewers he would at least temporarily stop talking about Rich on his show "out of the family's wishes." On his radio show, however, Hannity told listeners he retracted nothing.
The timing of the settlement seems very convenient for Fox:
Several Fox News personalities and executives had been scheduled to undergo depositions in recent weeks, including prominent hosts such as Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs. It's not clear whether those depositions took place and the Fox News spokesperson did not reply to an email asking for clarification.
As I have previously written, I am willing to bet that somebody on Team Trump had a hand in this journalistic malpractice that was designed to scapegoat Rich for what we now know for sure was Russia’s doing. Given Hannity's chumminess with Donald Trump (he has been dubbed Trump's "unofficial chief of staff") you don't need to know how to connect the dots to know they probably connect somehow.
As The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple pointed out, “Hannity’s actions alone would have led to his immediate dismissal from any ethical news outlet. Instead, he remains in his perch every night on Fox News.”
One thing we have learned: Malia Zimmerman, author of the original FoxNews.com story, no longer works for Fox. Wemple reported:
Zimmerman, the sole byline on the conspiracy story, remained employed at Fox News, though her contributions dried up in September 2017. She pursued the Seth Rich “story” with the assistance of a financial adviser and private investigator — the ins and outs of that fiasco furnish a narrative all its own. Asked Tuesday about Zimmerman’s status, Fox News responded that she is no longer with the network.
CNN confirmed Zimmerman’s departure but was unable to ascertain when it occurred. “The spokesperson did not respond to an email asking when she departed Fox News and under what circumstances,” CNN reported.
However, we may yet have another opportunity to learn more about this disgraceful chapter in Fox’s history. NPR reported that another lawsuit, brought by Seth's brother Aaron against investment adviser and regular Fox guest Ed Butowsky and others, is still pending. Butowsky, was a key player in Zimmerman’s reporting and he also involved the Trump White House in this sordid tale. NPR’s David Folkenflik has a great ‘splainer on Butowsky’s role.
But Rich's parents, who were forced to continue suffering because it was politically expedient for Fox, deserve every single penny they get.
Fox said in a statement: "We are pleased with the resolution of the claims and hope this enables Mr. and Mrs. Rich to find a small degree of peace and solace moving forward."
Too bad it took three and a half years for the network to put its money where its mouth is.
(Hannity image via screen grab)
The Foxies don’t like to fork out millions of dollars in settlements. In the age of COVID-19, and ad revenue loss, the last thing networks want is to lose money.
NOTE TO HANNITY
You can pay off some people, but not all the people who know the real story. The last thing you want is to testify in court under oath, you loser.