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What's the Deal with Seth Rich, The DNC Operative That Right-Wing Nutjobs Believe Hillary Clinton Had Murdered?

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | May 16, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | May 16, 2017 |

This morning, while every respectable mainstream media outlet was dutifully covering Donald Trump’s latest scandal and the fall-out from it (which may include losing valuable intelligence partners), Fox News — and much of the right-wing media — was busy ignoring it and hyping another story in an attempt to distract us from the fact that Trump has engaged in the sort of behavior that conservatives spent years accusing Hillary of.

That story? Seth Rich.


The Seth Rich story is not new, although if you are not a follower of Breitbart, Drudge, or Fox News, it may have escaped your notice, because it’s a bullsh*t conspiracy theory. Last July, Seth Rich — a low level operative in the DNC — was murdered at 4 a.m. in what appears to have been a botched robbery.

But a late night robbery isn’t just a late-night robbery when there are political points to be scored, so of course, the right has tried to turn this into something it isn’t, namely that Hillary Clinton had Seth Rich murdered for leaking emails to Wikileaks.

What do they base this information on? A private investigator named Rod Wheeler, who claims that Seth Rich had exchanged emails with Wikileaks weeks before his death. He has no real evidence of this — it’s a belief of his that such information is on Seth Rich’s computer, which he hasn’t seen. Basically, Wheeler made this assumption because, when he asked an anonymous source in the D.C. police department about the investigation, the source “looked at me straight in the eye and said, ‘Rod, we were told to stand down on this case and I can’t share any information with you.’”

How Wheeler makes the logical jump from “I can’t share information with you” to “Seth Rich’s computer holds all the secrets to the DNC hack” is unclear, but that hasn’t prevented the right from grasping onto this story in an attempt to suggest that the Russians didn’t hack the DNC, but that a low-level DNC operative with no motive to do so leaked all of the DNC’s emails to Julian Assange, who neither confirms nor denies the story (Assange likely wouldn’t know who the source of the leak was), but has helped to fan the flames of this conspiracy theory. The conspiracy theory further suggests that, after Rich leaked the emails to Wikileaks, Hillary Clinton had him murdered.

A spokesperson for the Rich family has blasted these reports.

“It’s sad but unsurprising that a group of media outlets who have repeatedly lied to the American people would try and manipulate the legacy of a murder victim in order to forward their own political agenda,” Bauman told Business Insider. “I think there is a special place in hell for people like that.”

“We are a family who is committed to facts, not fake evidence that surfaces every few months to fill the void and distract law enforcement and the general public from finding Seth’s murderers. The services of the private investigator who spoke to press was offered to the Rich family and paid for by a third party, and contractually was barred from speaking to press or anyone outside of law enforcement or the family unless explicitly authorized by the family.”

Meanwhile, Rod Wheeler — the private investigator behind this conspiracy — is a well-known Trump supporter and nut job who once claimed that pistol-packing lesbian gangs were raping young women in D.C. and indoctrinating children into their lesbian lifestyle. So, you know? A great source.

I should also note that Fox News has walked back their story since first running it this morning. Earlier today, the story focused on the supposed link between Rich and Wikileaks; by mid-morning, the focus of the story had shifted to the family of Seth Rich, who blasted the private investigator for trying to politicize their son’s murder (which is exactly what Fox News was doing, as well).

Sources: Wikipedia, Southern Poverty Law Center, AdAge, Fox, Patch

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.