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Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Will WND Admit It's Deceiving Readers With Seth Rich Conspiracy Theories?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily is still reliably flogging the dead, discredited Seth Rich conspiracy theory story -- for instance, this July 27 article by Alicia Powe spinning a conspiracy theory roping in such disparate elements the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., and Imran Awan, the congressional aide who's the subject of a completely different set of right-wing conspracy theories.

Still, the Seth Rich conspiracies kep blowing up in spectualar ways. The latest way is an article by NPR's David Folkenflik detailing a lawsuit private investigator Rod Wheeler -- one of WND's key sources for its conspiracy stories, whom Powe falsely insists has worked for the Rich family -- against the man who actually funded him, Republican donor and Trump supporter Ed Butowsky. In the suit, Wheeler alleges that Butowsky worked with officials in the Trump White House, including President Trump himself, to get a story on the case that prominently featured Wheeler published by Fox News as a distraction from bad news about Trump -- a story that kickstarted the latest round of conspiracy theories from WND and others. But that story was pulled a week later for making false claims, and Wheeler claims it included made-up quotes attributed to him.

This story pretty much blows up the Seth Rich story as nothing but politically motivated and factually challenged conspiracy-mongering with the Trump White House's hands all over it. Needless to say, that's not how WND has chosen to interpret it.

An anonymously written Aug. 1 WND article serves up this spin:

The controversy over the unsolved murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich one year ago reached a new level this week when an investigator looking into the Washington, D.C., homicide sued Fox News over an allegedly “fake news” report.

The move now gives the federal courts a role in sorting out a quagmire of innuendo and supposition.

Rich was murdered July 10, 2016, on a street near his Washington home. Some have speculated that Rich – who worked in the voter analysis division of the DNC – was a source of the leak of Democratic Party emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential race.

In an August 2016 interview, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared to suggest that Rich was one of his sources.

On July 22, just 12 days after Rich’s death and three days before the Democratic Party Convention in Philadelphia, WikiLeaks began publishing 44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments from top DNC officials. Some of the emails showed DNC officials conspiring to sabotage Sen. Bernie Sanders’ candidacy to help secure the party nomination for Hillary Clinton

Now, private homicide detective Rod Wheeler, who previously investigated the Rich murder for the family, has filed a lawsuit against Fox News, Fox reporter Malia Zimmerman and Ed Butowsky, alleging they created a false narrative and tried to spread false news about the death.

Wheeler also claims President Trump knew of the false statements and tried to spread false news, according to the London Daily Mail.

Talk about burying the lead -- the bombshell claim that Trump himself was involved in pushing the story is relegated to the seventh paragraph. And it's funny that WND portrays the lawsuit as "a quagmire of innuendo and supposition" when that description more aptly applies to the entire narrative WND has been pushing about Rich.

Also note that WND chose to rely on a Daily Mail writeup of the NPR story, not NPR itself (though the Daily Mail, unlike WND, did lead with the claim that Trump pushed the story).

After summarizing the lawsuit for a while, WND then fills out its article with a rehash of its conspiracy theories -- including the even more dubious Inwan Awan angle -- conveniently ignoring the fact that the political power plays outlined earlier in the article severely damages those conspiracies.

Completely missing from the article, however, is any comment from anyone at WND regarding the accusations. Joseph Farah, Alicia Powe and Co. have continued to push the story long after it was discredited, after all. WND's readers deserve to know whether it too was a player in the Fox News-Trump White House negotiations over the story.

More importantly, WND needs to explain to its readers the implications the story will have on its reporting. Will it continue to pursue a story that has been thoroughly discredited, or will admit it was deliberately misleading its readers by pushing these conspiracy theories?

Unfortunately, we suspect it's the former. The article contains a prominent link to WND's floundering GoFundMe campaign to fund its continued pushing of Seth Rich conspiracy theories. There's a consipracy to exploit, after all.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:26 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, August 11, 2017 1:11 AM EDT

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