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Fox News Fights Back On Lawsuit Filed Over Seth Rich Story

The News Corporation headquarters, owners of Fox News, in New York City. Fox News denies that a source in a story about Seth Rich’s murder was defamed.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images


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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The News Corporation headquarters, owners of Fox News, in New York City. Fox News denies that a source in a story about Seth Rich’s murder was defamed.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Even as former Fox News star Bill O’Reilly seemed Tuesday on opposition NBC to repudiate that he had ever intimately tormented colleagues, Fox was behaving to urge itself on several fronts in justice and in a justice of open opinion.

In a many distinguished instance, Fox is seeking to skip nonetheless another lawsuit — this one filed over a retracted story about a late Seth Rich — by convincing a decider that a pivotal source in a story should be treated as an employee.

In early August, a private eye named Rod Wheeler sued Fox in sovereign justice in Manhattan for defamation, alleging a network put difference in his mouth in sequence to column adult what he characterized as a fake story.

Wheeler was suing over Fox’s May 16 story about final year’s murder of a immature Democratic Party staffer named Seth Rich that tied a immature male to a trickle of thousands of emails of Democratic officials to WikiLeaks. The network withdrew a story a week later, observant it did not accommodate standards yet it unsuccessful to explain why.

Late Monday night, attorneys for Fox News and writer Malia Zimmerman argued Wheeler’s quotations resemble those he done elsewhere.

No Apology, No Explanation: Fox News And The Seth Rich Story

“In truth, he was conjunction misquoted nor defamed,” contends a brief submitted on interest of Fox and Zimmerman. “He done almost a same statements on a atmosphere in several on-camera interviews, before and after a Fox News report, and even settled publicly that a essay he now hurdles as fake ‘was radically scold and estimable of serve investigation.’ “

NPR has reviewed a taped recording of a three-way discussion call that enclosed Wheeler and Zimmerman on a day of a story. In that conversation, Zimmerman concedes Wheeler never done a quotes joining Rich to a trickle of emails to WikiLeaks.

Here’s a twist: Wheeler, a former Washington, D.C., carnage detective, had also been a paid Fox News writer given 2005. Fox is insisting that Wheeler should be theme to contracting arbitration, theme to a terms of his agreement as a commentator for a network, that paid him $515 per appearance. And indeed his agreement does mention private settlement to settle disputes.

That casts uninformed light on a doubt that has sparked critique from a day a story initial surfaced: In what purpose was Wheeler acting?

To Fox’s readers and viewers, Wheeler seemed to be a source for Zimmerman’s story. Indeed, Wheeler was a usually one mentioned by name. Although his tie to Fox was disclosed, he was cited for his purpose as an questioner hired to assistance Rich’s relatives solve a poser of who killed their son. Wheeler’s attorney, Douglas Wigdor, tells NPR that Fox did not compensate Wheeler as a writer or commentator for a Seth Rich story.

Behind Fox News' Baseless Seth Rich Story: The Untold Tale

Wheeler had been comparison and paid for a Riches by another Fox News commentator, yet an delinquent one, named Ed Butowsky. He’s a Dallas investment manager and believer of President Trump who worked behind a scenes to try to couple Rich to a trickle of a Democratic emails as a approach of deflecting critique of a president. U.S. comprehension agencies have resolved a Russian supervision consecrated a hacking of a Democratic National Committee’s emails to assist Trump’s candidacy.

Wigdor, Wheeler’s attorney, says a pierce for settlement is an try to get a botched Rich story out of open view, that he contended lifted questions of a network’s “broadcast standards.”

“Unfortunately, they’re perplexing to challenge this box underneath a deceive of secrecy,” Wigdor tells NPR. “They’re peaceful to go so distant as perplexing to use an settlement agreement that covers his purpose as a contributor, to make an evidence that it should cover his purpose as an questioner for a Rich family — for that he was paid by Ed Butowsky.”

Wheeler also sued Butowsky, whose lawyers contended he was not celebration to editorial decisions done by Fox News. Butowsky also argued he is not theme to a sovereign court’s office in Manhattan since he lives in Texas.

Fox is confronting Wigdor in some-more than 20 other cases. The practice warn denounced another lawsuit Monday evening: The regressive commentator Scottie Nell Hughes purported that Fox Business Network horde Charles Payne raped her in 2013 and that he kept her in a attribute for dual years with a hazard of assault and a guarantee to allege her career. That assist stopped, according to a suit, when she finally pennyless off ties in 2015.

Wigdor afterwards alleges that Fox retaliated opposite Hughes when she lifted concerns progressing this year; her lawsuit alleges her name was leaked to a National Enquirer in atonement by Fox’s ubiquitous warn and arch broadside executive. Payne concurred what he called an extramarital event to a Enquirer. Fox took him off a atmosphere during a examination by a outward lawyers yet returned him to his uncover progressing this month after final that Payne and Hughes had a consensual relationship.

Fox News labeled a lawsuit “a broadside stunt” but merit; a warn for Payne pronounced he would be vindicated.

These accusations play out opposite a backdrop of a period of monumental accusations opposite Fox News that have led to vital changes there. Allegations of passionate nuisance lodged in a past 14 months led to a departures of a late Fox News owner Roger Ailes, and star hosts Bill O’Reilly and Eric Bolling, as good as other executives and staffers indicted of enabling such behavior.

NBC’s Matt Lauer grilled O’Reilly on a Today show Tuesday morning over a accusations O’Reilly faced but nailing him down. O’Reilly, who was paid millions of dollars to buy him out of his agreement this past spring, claimed that no one had ever complained about his function — yet he specified there had been no complaints to his employers’ tellurian resources departments. Former Fox News writer Andrea Mackris was paid $8 million to settle her accusations that he had tormented her once it became transparent she had taped O’Reilly’s calls to her.

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