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Fox News and Alex Jones Are Being Sued for Conspiracy Mongering

Fox News and Alex Jones Are Being Sued for Conspiracy Mongering

Joel and Mary Rich have filed a lawsuit that says Fox News "intentionally exploited" their son's murder. The Riches' suit goes on to point to programming on Fox that they claim propagated baseless assertions that their son provided the DNC emails to WikiLeaks, even after Fox retracted Zimmerman's article a week after its publication. The article linked Rich to the leak of the emails to WikiLeaks, but the US intelligence community said in October 2016 that the Russian government was behind the hacks.

Rich was shot and killed in Washington, D.C., in July 2016.

The suit, filed on Tuesday in the Southern District of NY, alleges that the network, Zimmerman, and Butowsky acted "with disregard for the obvious harm that their actions would cause Joel and Mary" Rich.

Brad Bauman, an attorney for the Rich family, said: "We have no further response to supposition or theories. The pain and anguish that comes from seeing your murdered son's life and legacy treated as a mere political football is beyond comprehension", the couple said in a statement. The nature of his death has led to conspiracy theories that insist he was targeted by Democrats for leaking emails to WikiLeaks. The story was heavily promoted by Fox News host Sean Hannity and other conservative pundits such as Alex Jones of Infowars.

In August, a private detective hired by the Rich family sued Fox News for defamation and racial discrimination, claiming that the network had fabricated quotes attributed to him as part of a coordinated effort with the White House to smear Rich. (Fox News denied the charges.) The detective, Rod Wheeler, who was himself a Fox News contributor, also claimed that Butowsky had coordinated with the Trump administration to plant the story.

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Nevertheless, in May 2017, Fox News ran a story making the claim that Rich had leaked the emails.

Butowsky said that Joel Rich had been "very happy with the article" when it was initially published.

Mr and Ms Rich argue in the lawsuit that Fox News' reaction to his death painted their son "as a criminal and traitor to the United States".

"Joel and Mary have been irreparably harmed because whatever opportunity that existed to investigate and find closure with regard to their son's murder was taken away from them", the lawsuit continues. The network did eventually retract the story on May 23, stating the story had not met its editorial standards.

A tape recording of a three-way call with Zimmerman, Wheeler and Butowsky that NPR has verified showed Zimmerman conceding that Wheeler never said "my investigation up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks", but that her bosses told her to keep his quotes in the story.