Fox News wants a federal judge to toss a lawsuit centered around a retracted article about murdered Democratic committee staffer Seth Rich, according to court documents filed on Monday.
Private eye Rod Wheeler sued Fox News in Manhattan federal court for defamation last month, alleging the network attributed faked quotes to him in a story about Rich’s death.
Fox News, in the motions filed this week, claims that Wheeler “was neither misquoted nor defamed.”
Wheeler’s suit alleges that Fox News conspired with the White House to promote the story implying that Rich, 27, was killed for leaking internal DNC emails to WikiLeaks.
The story was meant to distract from the ongoing investigations into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“The motivation” was to “help put to bed speculation that President Trump colluded with Russia in an attempt to influence the outcome of the Presidential election,” Wheeler’s suit says.
The May 16 story was withdrawn a week after it was published.
News headlines scroll above the Fox News studios in the News Corporation headquarters building in New York on Aug. 1, 2017.
Fox News insists that Wheeler, a former D.C. homicide detective, should be subject to binding arbitration because he was a paid contributor to the network, according to court papers.
The network also argues that Wheeler made similar comments to what was quoted in the article while on air.
“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.’ ”
Rich was shot twice in the back as he walked home from a D.C. bar in August 2016. His death in 2016 sparked conspiracy theories that he was the source of the hacked DNC emails released by WikiLeaks at the height of the 2016 presidential race, and not Russia.
Rich’s family fought against the idea and pleaded with Fox hosts to drop the story.