On Tuesday, Fox News’ Sean Hannity continued his quixotic quest to unmask the killer of former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, who was shot to death in 2016 on the streets of Washington D.C. in an apparent botched robbery. Hannity has been leading the charge, suggesting a conspiracy at play: Rich was supposedly leaking emails from the DNC to Wikileaks, and was then supposedly killed by…John Podesta, or somebody. That’s the theory. Why does Hannity care? Because if Rich was leaking the emails to Wikileaks from the DNC, that would take Russians off the hook for hacking – and by extension, would take the Trump campaign off the hook for supposed collusion with the Russians in hacking.
Here’s Hannity tweeting just that:
Now it’s worth noting that Trump himself is the head of the executive branch, and his FBI would presumably be more responsible for an investigation than Congress. But Hannity doesn’t call on Trump to get involved, because Trump must be protected at all costs.
If all this seems preposterous, that’s because it is.
First off, there is no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion. That should be enough for Trump’s defenders like Hannity. Why not just point out that Democrats are out over their skis in incredible fashion, and wait for the various investigations to come to their quiet conclusions? Instead, Hannity (who is not alt-right) and the alt-right trolls are out to exonerate Russia when no exoneration is necessary on Trump’s behalf.
Second, the original report on Seth Rich was replete with errors. The private investigator who claimed he had evidence Rich leaked to Wikileaks had no such evidence, and the Fox News report quoting an FBI source saying that the FBI had evidence of such leaks as well as debunked by Newsweek, which reported that the FBI had no role in investigating Rich’s murder.
Third, Hannity’s reliance on the word of Kim Dotcom, an internet troll of the highest order, is foolish. Dotcom claims that he “knew Seth Rich. I know he was the @Wikileaks source. I was involved.” He then pitched a statement to be released today. Here is the entirety of the statement:
I KNOW THAT SETH RICH WAS INVOLVED IN THE DNC LEAK.
I know this because in late 2014 a person contacted me about helping me to start a branch of the Internet Party in the United States. He called himself Panda. I now know that Panda was Seth Rich.
Panda advised me that he was working on voter analytics tools and other technologies that the Internet Party may find helpful.
I communicated with Panda on a number of topics including corruption and the influence of corporate money in politics.
“He wanted to change that from the inside.”
I was referring to what I knew when I did an interview with Bloomberg in New Zealand in May 2015. In that interview I hinted that Julian Assange and Wikileaks would release information about Hillary Clinton in the upcoming election.
The Rich family has reached out to me to ask that I be sensitive to their loss in my public comments. That request is entirely reasonable.
I have consulted with my lawyers. I accept that my full statement should be provided to the authorities and I am prepared to do that so that there can be a full investigation. My lawyers will speak with the authorities regarding the proper process.
If my evidence is required to be given in the United States I would be prepared to do so if appropriate arrangements are made. I would need a guarantee from Special Counsel Mueller, on behalf of the United States, of safe passage from New Zealand to the United States and back. In the coming days we will be communicating with the appropriate authorities to make the necessary arrangements. In the meantime, I will make no further comment.
If you conclude that this statement means nothing, that’s because it means nothing. And Dotcom is hardly a reliable source: as Rich’s brother points out, “In March, Kim circulated a letter purporting to show a conspiracy against him. New Zealand law enforcement officials investigated the letter thoroughly and discovered without a shadow of a doubt that the letter was a forgery.” Yet Hannity continues to push Dotcom.
All of this is both unnecessary and deeply disturbing on a moral level – the family appears to believe their son is being used as a political pawn, and without Hannity providing any evidence to support his allegations, it’s hard to believe they’re not.
But that’s not stopping Newt Gingrich from leveling accusations about Seth Rich. Or Alex Jones. Or Roger Stone. It’s not stopping One America News from offering a $100,000 reward for information about Rich’s murder.
How about this: before we peddle conspiracy theories, we take a look at the evidence. And before we peddle conspiracy theories that allege collusion between a dead political operative and Wikileaks, we take a serious look beyond the tweets of Julian Assange and Kim Dotcom.
Is that so difficult?
If you have to defend President Trump this way, Sean, it makes you look desperate and Trump look guilty. You shouldn’t be desperate (Trump won!), and there’s no evidence that he’s guilty. Unless you have some evidence you haven’t shown the world in the Seth Rich case, please stop.
UPDATE: Shortly after this story went up, Fox News retracted its original story on the Seth Rich murder discussed in this article.