Episode 5: Fox News fallout


In the last episode of Yahoo News Conspiracy Land from conversations I had with Bannon at the time he was trying to spin counter counter narrative. You've and seth rich fit perfectly within that counter narrative Assad told a friend of mine who met with her that he got the emails from from Seth Rich and then add sold to look for the money on pay and trust me there is no k Rod did that a couple minutes ago again and know that we have the full and the White House today Fox five has learned there is new information that could prove these theorists are in fact right new information information from the family's private investigators suggest there is tangible evidence on Seth riches laptop that confirms he was communicating with wikileaks prior to his death. I'm Michael Isikoff and welcome to Yahoo. News is conspiracy land. The untold story of Seth rich the special all six part podcast brought to you by skulduggery in this podcast were exploring the story of how one man's senseless murder on the streets of Washington was shamelessly exploited avoided for notoriety and crass political purposes an example of how conspiracy theories flourish and affect the body politic in the brave new world of social social media. This is episode five Fox News Fallout in mid may two thousand thousand seventeen Ed Petoskey was on the verge of what looked like a personal triumph for months the Dallas money man had been working feverishly behind the scenes to challenge orange the mainstream media narrative about Russia's interference in the two thousand sixteen election pushing instead a story that would claim that murdered D._N._C. Staffer Seth Rich was is the real source of emails leaked to wikileaks for that end Hausky had persuaded the rich family to let them hire Rod Wheeler a retired homicide signed detective and Fox News contributor to investigate seth's death on their behalf and he introduced wheeler to a Fox News website reporter named Melissa Zimmerman and WHO's reporting on the story but what looked like a coup for motulsky threatened to veer out of control when wheeler spilled the beans to the Fox affiliate in in Washington about the story Zimmerman had just submitted to our editors but you have the F._B._i.. Saying that there is information for short you're rich too wicky absolutely yeah and that's confirmed. The affiliates story created panic at Fox headquarters in New York work. The editors of the network didn't want US story being broken by local affiliate and early the next morning according to three sources inside the network they rushed rushed to publish Zimmerman's story before it had been fully vetted Kutowski for his part blasted out emails to the hosts and producers for Fox's popular morning show show to give them a heads up. I WANNA promoting anything and I didn't you saying that and you wrote an email to Fox News producers and on Air Talent New York including Steve Doocy saying if you have any questions about the story or more information needed call me you give your number. I'm actually the one who's been putting putting this together but as you know I keep my name out of things because I have no credibility one of the big conclusions we need to draw from this is that the Russians did not a hacker computer systems and steal emails and there was no collusion like trump with the Russians on the actually the one who's been putting the story story together. That sounds like you were promoting the store. There were many things that I brought to them. When I tell them that I was involved with it it it stands out and has some credibility ability? I'm not going to go into any more detail but I wasn't promoted by the way let me finish. I wasn't promoting this around the globe but they always wanted to know if there there was something that they might want to be aware of Ed and when you say I'm actually the one who's been putting this together and you're sending an email telling them to a report on it. That sounds like the very definition of promoting the story well promoting <hes>. I'll I'll give you this. I wasn't promoting get around the globe. I was telling them that. Here's a story and you might want to report on it at six A._M.. The next morning the hosts of Fox and friends enthusiastically followed suit housekeepers lead news alert a brand new bombshell in the murder of that guy right there d._n._C.. Staffer an investigator now says a south rich was in contact with wikileaks not only that he claims there's been as law enforcement cover up Fox News thought they finally had the story that would send the Russian interference narrative to the grave. The narrative has been a long Russia Russia Russia. I'm GonNa just read you. The lead line on the Fox News Dot Com story glory the DNC staffer who was gunned down on July tenth in Washington D._C.. St Last July just steps from his home had leaked thousands of internal email to wikileaks law enforcement sources have told Fox News a few hours later and now we bring in Laura Ingram Torri Act then Julian assange today from wikileaks re tweeted this report indicating to a lot of people that he was affirming that confirming that in fact act on seth rich was the source of these these D._S.'s email to wikileaks then the network's biggest megaphone started blasting out the story. Let not your heart be troubled. You are listening to the Sean Hannity Radio Show podcast at F._B._I.. Forensic Report of Seth richest computer generated within ninety six hours of the murder show that he had contact with wikileaks. This is getting very close to home and he continued that night on his prime time cable show explosive developments in the mysterious murder of former DNC staffer seth rich that could completely shatter the narrative love that in fact wikileaks was working with the Russians or there was collusion between the trump campaign and the Russians now if true this could become one of the biggest scandals in in American history Hannity's exclusive get when we come back former DC homicide detective Rod Wheeler Longtime Rod. You're a man of honor and integrity tatty. What did you discover in terms of the contacts with wikileaks? There was a federal investigator that was involved on the inside of the case. He's a person that's very credible and I'll tell you let me say this Sean. I don't like to suggest things without saying the person's name but I can't say the person's name because that person would be thrown thrown under the bus and I can't do that but this person we checked him out. We have to check them out very credible. He said he laid eyes on the computer and he he laid eyes on the case file and he he came across very credible. When you look at that with the totality of everything else that I found in this case it's very consistent assistant for a person with my experience to begin to think well perhaps there were some email communications between seth and wikileaks but if you listen closely mostly to what wheeler So how did you learn that this Fox News story was out there at home in Omaha Marian Joel rich which says parents could scarcely believe what they were watching. I walked in and then was on in. I'm watching Joel aw almost in tears and nine standing there everything going what what the hell remember rottweiler came into the picture when he was hired by Petoskey to investigate four the rich family his contract specifically stated that he wouldn't talk to the media without without the riches approval very was all over Fox News everything we knew our ally is being sent. The computer computer has been checked the computer computer. I've been secured ever since passed the the thing that really hurt us was when rod wheeler on Fox in comes out with the there's an F. B. I. report that says this that they have facts and we know those facts are totally holy false. This conspiracy Bullshit Fox took live but three reporters knew it was lied box never checked a damn thing out by calling us or anything in fact I played that it was our investigator that sound all this so therefore we were bombing which is absolutely absolutely or shit our allies over the next week Hannity devoted thirty five minutes on his cable show and two and a half hours on his radio show to the Fox News exclusive. The whole narrative has been there investigating a robbery did doesn't sound at all like a robbery to me. It sounds like murder one I mean it sounds like premeditated. Murder <hes> targeted at this individual helping out with commentary a Hannity regular conservative wear Jay Sacco Secolo doesn't volunteer and Hannity doesn't mention the just that week the attorney had joined president trump's legal team of course the public perception of this is this was just another horrible situation a crime in the district of Columbia Columbia but there's a lot more to this the tragic aspect of it here is of course the media continuing to harp on the Russia source of the leaks which Julian assange pretty much denies so unfortunate question to have to address in that is there's a dead twenty-seven-year-old in Washington D._C.. Who happened to be a D._N._C. Employees? You know I haven't seen defiles. You haven't seen the files but there's one thing this undercuts I think is I think this whole Russia argument. Sean is such a sumpter then another Fox News heavyweight it added his voice to the cable networks chorus former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at the same time we have this very strange story now of <hes> this young man who works for the Democratic National Committee who apparently was assassinated at four in the morning having given wikileaks something like twenty three thousand. I'm I am sorry fifty three thousand emails and seventeen thousand attachments. Nobody's investigating that and what does that tell you about what was going on because because it turns out it wasn't the Russians it was. This young guy who I suspect was disgusted by the corruption of the Democratic National Committee Well Fox's Fox's star anchors and big name contributors were hyping the Bombshell Story Deborah signs the Assistant U._S.. Attorney in charge of the Seth Rich Murder Investigation was beside herself. I was furious why it was just lie so that makes it even worse because then you get a feeding frenzy <music> from like minded conspiracy theory and it makes my job four times as our because I have to investigate all you may recall from earlier episodes that signs discovered that Russian intelligence agents had planted a wild conspiracy story about seth riches murder just three days after after his death now she was seeing the conspiracy claims being amplified by some of the loudest voices and conservative media. Let me put it this way. I do respect the Newt Gingrich Sean Hannity. Actually they don't deserve any respect. They spoke about things they had no knowledge of they made it up. The specifics in the story was that there was an F._B._i.. Report about an F. B. I. Analysis sources of Seth richest computer that showed he was in communication with wikileaks. was there any truth to that now and nine complete fabrication as soon as she heard the story signs reached out to the F._B._i.. Of course I checked of course I could tell you no no no no connection between Seth and wikileaks and there was no evidence on his work computer of him downloading and disseminating things from the DANC- turned out. There was one sliver of truth in the Fox story the F._B._I.. Had Been Examining Seth's computer not for any ties to the D._N._C. emails or wikileaks but because they saw unusual activity by a foreign hacker after his death there were allegations that <hes> someone maybe more than one person was trying to invade south g mail account and set up a separate account after steph was murdered and the F._B._I.. was looking into that I presumed they were trying to create a fake a g mail account or get into the g mail account so they could don't fall information in there so just to be clear the F._B._i.. Only investigated investigated in an attempt to hack into seth riches email when they saw activity after he died when we contacted the bureau's Washington field office a spokesperson and said it had never opened an investigation into the D._N._C. staffers death pointing out that the F._B._i.. Had No jurisdiction over local crimes Andrew McCabe the bureau's acting director at the time told us something else he had personally reached out to his agents when he heard the seth rich Fox News caved the network retracted. The story Tuesday faulk says it was not subjected to a high degree of editorial scrutiny. Here's media correspondent correspondent David Folkenflik who covered the story for N._P._R.. Why did they retract the story? I just wasn't sustainable Fox sort of distance itself from it eight days later mm sing. It didn't live up to the network standards although did not specify on what grounds it failed to do so or how it had happened there. Only on the record source who was at that time a paid Fox News commentator disavowed the comments saying they put words in his mouth so you had somebody by name on their payroll he role accusing them. Fabrication Fox had <hes> cited in the very opening stanzas of that story <hes> a federal law enforcement horseman official that it said had shown <hes> specifically had vowed specifically for the idea Richard handed over these things right and you've never heard about out that federal law enforcement source again I was going to say has anybody ever found. This federal. Law Enforcement Official Fox never again produced anything they didn't even produce any account counted them going back to that person to try to verify it Fox had quotes from that person suggesting that person existed maybe but we haven't seen any accounting of what happened there. It is pretty uncommon for Fox to retract stories every every now and then they did a correction but it's really rare. It's part of the D._N._A.. It's you never acknowledge your compromising. You never acknowledge your conceding any ground and you never acknowledge. You've made mistakes. You don't acknowledge that you are fallible. The other guys are wrong in everything and you you know it's it's. It's a political campaign some political campaigns if you're polishing you're losing but Fox News is biggest star was not quite ready to let it go. The unsolved murder of former DNC staffers seth rich continues to get a huge amount of attention on his show that night no mention of a retraction or the heat he was facing just a few belated words for the riches. I totally completely understand how upset how hard this is on this family especially over the recent coverage of death out of respect for the family's wishes for now. I am not discussing this matter at this time then a wink and a nod to his fans. I promise you I am not doing going to stop doing my job to the the extent of my ability. I am not going to stop trying to find the truth as for my job here at the Fox News Channel there is an effort now. How about to silence me the next day doubling down on his radio show also a liberal media? I am not thoughts dot com or Fox News Dot Com. I I work track that nothing so Sean Hannity survives this and it's as though it never happened accepted did happen and had very much happened the rich family and the fact that this murder and tragedy for them got woven into a conspiracy theory with geo-political. He'll political dimensions to serve a seeming political purpose you know is is a fresh tragedy all over again. Uh while Fox News may have retreated bogus story did not die. Thanks once again to the Kremlin propaganda machine. You remember ten underscore G._O._P.. That twitter handle we told you about an episode to the one masquerading as an account of the Tennessee Republican Party but which was really run out of the Russian troll factory in Saint Petersburg as soon as Fox News is seth rich story broke the trolls swung back into action blasting a series of provocative tweets like we will not stop until we have the truth about Hashtag Seth rich the Democrats are in full panic mode over Hashtag seth rich. Please hire the best bodyguards. We all know what Democrats are capable of Hashtag Seth rich from London. The Russian Embassy tweeted a picture of seth rich with Hillary Clinton blooming in the background and in Washington the editors of the official official Russian news agencies sputnik gave Andrew Feinberg. It's White House reporter and unusual order shortly. After the story had been retracted by Fox I was called into a meeting and they said injury and when the president comes back we want you to ask about the seth rich case and ask what about the seth rich case. Does it prove that he that he was the leaker and that the Russians had nothing to do with that. And what did you say to them. I'm not comfortable with that. Why not the story was bullshit? I wasn't GonNa hit with a ten foot pole. Why do you think they wanted you to ask that question? Well because seth rich represent say a major issue for the whole what I like to call the Russia right wing media media ecosystem because there are a lot of people who are invested in the idea that Russia had nothing to do with swing the election to Donald Trump. There are a lot a lot of people invested in it because if that didn't happen then Donald Trump's victory was earned all on his own Feinberg says when he refused is the order he was fired that day it was as abrupt as that yeah if sputnik and the Russians weren't giving up neither either was Ed petoskey convinced that Fox News at succumb to political pressure he continued to push the story forming new alliances with fringe players he was convinced could smoke out the truth petoskey leaked and edited tape of that phone call with Seymour Hersh in which the journalists claimed to have heard about. I suppose it F._B._I.. Report relating to seth rich and wikileaks he gave the recording to Cassandra fairbanks yeah in the White House correspondent for the Gateway Pundit Fairbanks who had also worked for sputnik uploaded the Bartelski Hirsch tape on a website called big league politics. She admitted she had no idea of the claims made on the tape since retracted by Hirsch were actually true. I think that it's absolutely newsworthy to publish an audio. Recording of pre award award winning journalist saying what he thinks happened and what I think about it is irrelevant row usually reporters SORTA. I WanNa know if there's something to <hes> a significant claim of misconduct or a cover-up right so as we sit here today you have no idea whether that's true or not but you published it yet. Of course they published it. Why wouldn't you publish it? Whether you think it's fair report or not is completely irrelevant in my opinion. Honestly I think that it was newsworthy and I would publish it again right now. Regardless of whether it's true or not yes because not asserting that it's true people report this kind of stuff every day. I don't know what you're getting at here what I'm getting at there's you know most journalists have a responsibility. Most serious journalists have feel some responsibility to verifying whether something is true before they put it out there people report all the time when people say crazy things even and it's completely dishonest if you to imply that they don't I don't don't accept that <hes> journalists published stuff but then you're very naive. I'm sorry you're People considering it was read. Probably a quarter of a million times wikileaks tweeted a link to the recording which was re tweeted nearly eight thousand times. The Fox News story unleashed lawsuits Galore a detective who worked on researching an explosive Fox News story is today taking the Channel to court Rod Wheeler was the first that of the block suing Petoskey as well as Fox News and Zimmermann for allegedly allegedly doctoring his quotes. A Lawsuit Made Network News Rod Wheeler is saying that he was used as a pond or push out fake news he alleges a conspiracy spiracy essentially between a wealthy trump supporter and the White House and Fox News to push out the story Fox has issued a statement and they're very specific in their language. They say that the accusation that the story was meant to help detract from coverage of the Russia collusion issue is completely erroneous but they don't actually address the question which is whether author not they consulted a work with the White House to push the story out. Remember the message Petoskey left for wheeler when he wanted to get the story out Hey rod. I know that we have the full attention of the White House. Lawsuit included that voicemail and other texts from Bukowski prompting the media to confront then Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders the president had no knowledge of the story in it's completely untrue true that here the White House involvement in the story <hes> and beyond that this is ongoing litigation and I'd refer you to the actual parties involve. which aren't the White House disturbing? There's an allegation if they're in a lawsuit and Sean Spicer admitted meeting with these two individuals that this was discussed in your White House is say anything about this White Elson to entertain the cover story. It doesn't bother me that the press secretary would take a meeting with somebody involved in the media about a story none of that was disclosed disclosed. They had a conversation and that was the end of it. <hes> you guys riches also sued Fox News and Ed Petoskey wheelers lawsuit was withdrawn after the judge concluded he had not proven he was misquoted especially in light of everything he had said on camera. The same judge also dismissed the riches lawsuit concluding putting the parents had not been personally defamed by the story that ruling is on appeal and in our next episode. You'll hear the arguments from inside the courtroom Fox News wouldn't talk to us for this podcast but the networks lawyers argued in court papers that the retracted story was what they called reporting reporting on an issue of legitimate public concern that is protected by the First Amendment Fox News said it was conducting an internal investigation into its reporting on the retracted storage more than two years later. The networks spokeswoman told us she couldn't comment about the results of that investigation or even whether it had been completed privately however senior editor told us that in the course of the networks inquiry Fox News executives grew frustrated that they were unable to determine whether Zimmerman's anonymous federal investigator wasn't fact who she said he was or even existed Petoskey for his part Sue David Folkenflik inflict and N._p._R.. Over its reporting on his role shepherding the bogus story that case is still pending the Dallas financier is unbowed. That story is accurate. Why Fox pulled it? That's Fox's decision. Metavsky says all this came at a cost the man who prided himself herself on getting things done behind the scenes had been exposed and as he saw it he was now the victim three hundred seventy seven newspapers first published then I'm a trump supporter publish that I created a fake story to help trump divert attention uh-huh from his hacking into the D._N._C. or his people into the D._N._C. Server and that I did this for trump most ridiculous the thing I've ever been around in my life in here. I am an innocent private citizen whose life was destroyed because of the media I I was bullied by the media you want to go back and say I was unfair the riches I've never been on fair the riches I've never done anything to these people never done anything negative these people for some reason he kept reaching out to the riches he kept sending US text messages. He kept sending US letters saying what you know what happened. Why don't you say the the truth? You know what you're why. Are you causing me. All this discomfort Metavsky is asking why you are causing him discomfort. Yes yeah <music> your son was murdered and Ed Petoskey is saying you or causing him pain. That's what he saying <music>. You're used to your your own so <music>. I mean this. This is outrageous. This is why we're fighting. It's blasted across America with Fox entity. All they've done is quote taking down but it's still up there on the Internet. This can't be retracted the way they get it. I wish they had the chance to experience they. Don't we have gone through <music> because this is worse than losing my son the first time this is like losing all over again <music> on the next and final episode of Yahoo News conspiracy see land collateral damage. We are in one of the strongest periods of conspiracy culture that we've ever seen the Internet boys go after a new target seth's that's brother Aaron Rich had money from wikileaks go into his personal account think about that Aaron rich had wikileaks money go into his personal account okay. We've been trying to tell you guys this get this information out. I mean you have people in the comments to the periscope. Saying Aaron is a sneak. How does Erin Sleep at night and then another follower of Matt Couch has waterboard him and find out what he knows and despite considerable hurdles tells the DC police doggedly continue their investigation? There's a very strong anti snitch culture in Washington eighteen and add assassination language Russian at all those buzzword. It wants to be a witness indicate that thanks for listening to this episode of Yahoo News is conspiracy land. We need to give a couple of shout outs here. I the my Yahoo News colleague Alexander Zarian who thought investigating conspiracies around seth riches murder would be a good idea for a podcast. Thanks thanks also to my Yahoo News Colleagues Charity Elder Dan Clyde men and Mark Seaman for their helpful ideas as well as to the folks from long story short media for their invaluable valuable help in producing this podcast. Yom newses conspiracy land is brought to you by skulduggery a weekly podcast that I host with Yahoo News editor hiring chief Dan climate in each episode we dissect the latest revelations and controversies surrounding the trump administration and we interview key newsmakers including some of the president's fiercest critics as well as most stalwart defenders. If you were enjoying the series subscribe to skulduggery and Yahoo News is conspiracy land land on Apple podcasts

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