Bonus Episode 6
Hi everybody. I'm dan kleinman editor in chief of yahoo news and welcome to this bonus episode of yahoo news conspiracy land. A new podcast cast series on the murder of seth rich brought to you by skulduggery. I'm here with my colleague. Skulduggery co host mike yesica fiat who news chief investigative correspondent and the host host of conspiracy land and beyond drita veteran news broadcaster who's reported for a._b._c. news c._b._c. News is currently c._n._n. Contributor and is our our former colleague and yahoo in these special episodes we will tell the story behind the story of conspiracy land explore the larger themes this tangled and tragic case raises and here from mike what it was like a report on the seth rich murder as he plumbed the depths of the dark netherworld of american political conspiracies each bonus podcast will be available title with the episode corresponds to today. We're discussing episodes six collateral damage welcome back guys to our final bonus episode of conspiracy land and mike in episode six you explore the kind of political purpose of conspiracy theories but of course political purpose that still has devastating human consequences yeah absolutely look we start out with a guy who you kind of wanted to get into in this jerome corsi <hes> call him the dean of twenty-first-century first century conspiracy theorists. He's the guy that gave rise to birtherism. He's the guy who pumped it. Wrote a book about it. Where's the birth certificate advocate and you know we interviewed for this and one thing which i don't think was publicly known before his he was in touch with donald trump all during in this period two thousand eleven trump was calling him up for information leading ammunition that he could use to pump the completely -pletely baseless conspiracy theory that barack obama was born in kenya and his birth certificate was a fraud and in showing that he was born in hawaii. I didn't know that coursey and trump were in communication at the time we have that delicious clip from sam number her who we interviewed from skulduggery a regular podcast number was an affiliate in crony of roger stone was an adviser visor trump all during that period and talks about how i trafficked and birtherism i promoted birtherism knowing it was a fraud and you know his very response when i said are you proud of that. His response was is donald trump president. You gotta say at least <hes> they laid bare and come out and say political ploy. If you're looking for evidence that conspiracy theories survey purpose survey political purpose you know you can't get better evidence than that but look how high up that went. I mean you had president obama. I actually have to present his birth certificate. Yeah it was. I mean trump was out there going on every t._v. Show giving you know fuel to to this whole nonsense of birtherism and it distracted the white house. Obama has to send his white house counsel bob bauer out to hawaii to retrieve retrieve the original long form birth certificate and if <hes> mike back to the russia and the seth rich conspiracy theory at one of the things that you do brilliantly is point out the connection between the firing of james comey which turn the russia story you know into a huge scandal handle yeah and the supercharging these conspiracy theories exactly and that is exhibited be exhibit a was birtherism exhibit b. of how oh conspiracy theories are used are weaponized for political purposes there it is when does the seth rich story reach its zenith just at the moment that komi is being fired and muller's being appointed to do an investigation into russian meddling in the election and ties to donald trump so it is no surprise that one jerome corsi birther her extraordinaire pops up fanning the seth rich story very as well and we use this podcast of roger stone on info wars talking to jerome corsi and they're nonsensical theories about <hes> seth rich being the source of d._n._c. emails to wikileaks and what's so frustrating as a listener is the question of accountability accountability right when when people upend lives and families are shattered over what many knew going into it was a fabricated aided story or embellish story because it fit their certain narrative you talk about in this episode the legal consequences right because there were lawsuits filed wild on behalf of the rich family against fox news talk about where that lead because they weren't all victories for the rich family either. No i mean <hes> <hes> these lawsuits are still going on but just to sort of trace these as they evolve. We've talked about the rich family but in this episode we talk about aaron rich the brother who becomes the target of these conspiracy theories because aaron rich had custody of his his late brother's property. He had the laptop he had custody over his financial affairs and of course to the conspiracy theorists aaron must be covering something up. Aaron is concealing information and we talked to one of the earlier episodes about how jack berkman this was in episode three he was demanding that the dc police turn over to him a private citizen the ballistics report and other sensitive evidence from the actual seth rich investigation in in this case when we get to erin rich matt couch a guy who plays a prominent role in this episode internet conspiracy entrepreneur for in the ozark mountains of arkansas is demanding that aaron turnover to him. You know hey internet crank stir in arkansas the laptop the financial records to disprove the conspiracy theory and of course aaron riches. Why would he turn over anything to the likes of somebody like mad couch but when he refuses to do so <hes> ha you see there's a cover a cover up he's covering up and therefore and therefore therefore he's complicit in his brother's murder. He's obstructing the investigation into his brother's murder and just like like his mother. You see the torment and pain that aaron is going through an enduring given that his brother is now gone his best man at his wedding and he's now having to justify to people who he doesn't know he doesn't have to justify to what happened and he thinks that he can clear it all up just by sending a letter right right and he he writes this letter pleading with matt couch to cease and desist stop tormenting his family. Stop besmirching the name of his brother and what is mad couch do mocks aaron rich. He reads the letter <music> in this contemptuous mocking way and then puts it on periscope on twitter for all to read for all to comment on. It's it's really sickening when when you listen to the way these people like mad cash say over and over were again you show the cruelty i can't. There's no other word for it. The cruelty of these people toward the riches and coming back to ed metavsky the striking thing in is ed metavsky paints himself as a victim and the relationship with the riches. They're causing me is comfort and you confronted him on them. Yeah i mean look. What can you say but you know there is that i mean this was actually at the end of episode. Five where joel rich is is saying that ed petoskey was after all the after all the whole fox news fiasco and the story retracted and all that which ed petoskey at a played a big role in engineering that completely bogus story that fox took down he was still reaching out to the rich family and <hes> complaining that he was abused here and you know what i say to joel rich of so stunning to hear is you who lost a son. Your son was murdered and catalyses complaining that he he's the he's the party here and the manipulation used that you talk about an earlier episode as s two how petoskey was able to come in contact with the rich family going through jewish circles family was jewish women and a and there's a mutual friend right so that connection is wherein lies their first interaction and where mary says has this guy seems credible. He seemed credible to them and you know what did they know. They're grieving parents who just want to be left alone and they want their son's killers to be caught. They want somebody to pay for taking the life of their son and here are all these huckster. There's coming around offering to help them do that. When they clearly have a political agenda and aaron not only is going through this battle with couch but now you have the prosecutor signs now having to and she says to you how frustrating and heartbreaking it was for her to now have have to bring up these allegations bro with aaron whom she needs to she has to question now and and rich in the grand jury. I mean you know because does she wants. It nailed down because again. I think we talked about this earlier episode. She asked to be prepared to when they finally do. You know fingers. Angers crossed for them. Find the people who really did this murder. She has to be able to disprove all these nonsense theories that have cropped up up about the case. I should also point out you know in terms of the collateral damage. It's not just the rich family you have friends of. Seth rich who who have been targeted by the owner of the bar manager who takes is <hes> family for a white house tore his immediately accused of <hes> consorting sorting and conspiring about <hes> seth rich you have the neighbor who's been targeted by the internet boys at the move out of his house at one point i mean who come from airbnb because he was worried that somewhere that people would be going after anybody in his or that they would infiltrate would get inside his house and get access to documents they would show something. God knows what because mark mueller the neighbor he didn't. They were really know seth rich. You just happen to be the first guy on the scene lived across the street from where the murder took place the gunshots. He rushed out and saw seth breath rich. You know laying on the on the pavement in the road. So where does the investigation stand now well. It has been transferred to a new detective in the major. Did your case slash cold case squad so you know you hear that and you think cold case the riches who've talked to the new detective detective and there's a new prosecutor say that no you know the still an active investigation that the prosecutor and the detective talk about it every day. I think they're going back to that. Those housing projects in the neighborhood where there was drug activity where they suspected the <hes> armed robberies that was the source of the armed robberies that were going on in the neighborhood in the weeks before his death so the you know the richest haven't given up the cops have given up and ever signs hasn't given us with a little bit of a hopeful note at the end of the day despite this kind of culture sure of this anti snitch culture in washington d._c. That people will talk that people will talk you know on the one hand you could say. The longer time goes on the harder. It is is to solve on the other hand. She makes the point that the longer time goes on the looser people get in their own conversations. They got away. Okay with it and somebody out. There knows something and we can only hope that whoever does will report to the police and you know this long nightmare for the rich family will be over. I just quickly to come back to something that the ana raised a minute ended ago which is the legal question which is related to this question of accountability because you would think that the rich family would be able to bring a successful defamation suit but the law law has not really caught up with this kind of conduct no no and it's very complicated in the case of the rich of the parents joel and mary they sued fox they sued petoskey and their lawsuit was initially rejected by a federal judge on the grounds that in part that it was is there sun their deceased son who was defamed not them personally so you know the judge said there's no precedent and for them to bring this lawsuit but clearly and we have that excerpt from the u._s. court of appeals argument which was really interesting to listen to where at least one of the circuit appellate court judges was challenging that conclusion and seemed to be open to reversing the district court judge's edges decision of course you also here in that excerpt the lawyer for fox news a guy named joe terry from the law firm of williams and connolly the same law firm firm that used to represent you and me when we were at newsweek defending fox news this was a first amendment protected journalism and <hes> you the news organizations have to be free to be able to <hes> report as best they can even if they get it wrong and the the final decision asian on this case could have major consequences yes especially in this rave new world of social media where we're we're in today where all sorts of wild crazy and defamatory things get said about people all the time with no accountability which raises i think the point that you know ultimately the law is important but ultimately it's the it's the culture and it's politics <hes> they're going to have to change if final thoughts about this story about the riches look. You can't help but have your heart go out to the richest for what they've been through from what they've experienced. I mean it's it's hard losing your our son is horrible enough but then to have it you know his name sullied and dragged through the mud and these crazy conspiracy z. theories going on and on and on is you know is hard to imagine but also in addition to the personal story. I think there's an important story for all of us to consider in how we use social media what we read on social media and the way it can get get manipulated for political purposes. Let's not forget this all began with a russian disinformation plant so oh a foreign intelligence agency trying to stoke divisions within our culture and exacerbate tensions within our society plants this phony conspiracy conspiracy theory and then it gets traction because it serves a political purpose of one group of actors and i think that's that's something we have to be. That's not going to be unique to this. It's ongoing and it's something we all have to be mindful of well very well said and and <hes> this is a a truly important piece of journalism so congratulations to you. Mike thanks for joining us and everyone who's listening. Thank you for joining us on these bonus episodes of conspiracy land. If you haven't already done it go to <hes> apple podcasts wherever you get your podcasts and download conspiracy land and tell all your friends about it tweet about it. Put it on facebook. <hes> really really important stuff. If you want to follow beyond a goal because <hes> great journalism you can follow her on twitter at beyond gold riga. Should we spell that he'll l. o. D. r. y. You've done this before the end the only one and follow follow skullduggery on ask duggary pod and thanks for being with us what is the true new source of the seth rich conspiracy theory and who should be held accountable join us as we get to the bottom of it at news dot yahoo dot com slash conspiracy land and and subscribe to conspiracy land on apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts.