Fox retracts, Hannity silenced on conspiracy about slain DNC staffer

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney holds up a copy of President Donald Trump's proposed fiscal 2018 federal budget as he speaks to members of the media in the Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington Tuesday

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney holds up a copy of President Donald Trump's proposed fiscal 2018 federal budget as he speaks to members of the media in the Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington Tuesday

Fox News says it has removed from its website a speculative story about the 2016 murder of Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich because it "was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting". CNN's Poppy Harlow asked Farenthold if he should be floating wild Internet conspiracy theories as a US congressman, and Farenthold said that this is not much different from the media's reports on Donald Trump and on Russia's attempts to influence to 2016 election.

The story occupied the front page of the Fox News website earlier this week, though the news outlet retracted it entirely after Wheeler walked back his claims, saying that he had no knowledge about Seth Rich's laptop and no idea if he contacted WikiLeaks.

Hannity slammed critics who "tried to get him fired" on Twitter, making it clear he had no intention of leaving Fox News anytime soon. More troublingly, it relies on a wholly invented narrative about Rich's tragic death, which appears to have taken place during a late-night robbery gone horribly awry.

Rich's parents wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post on Tuesday calling for an end to the conspiracy theories about their son's death.

Last week, Rich's family called on Fox to retract stories based on unfounded allegations that Rich was targeted because he was a source for WikiLeaks and threatened legal action.

Hannity stoked that speculation again Tuesday, promising an announcement about "my future at Fox".

Before the retraction, Hannity had promised to feature an account on his program from Kim Dotcom, an internet entrepreneur who is wanted in the United States on racketeering charges.

Trump Team Reportedly Knew Early On That Flynn Was Under Investigation
Democrats described the president's alleged action as an obstruction of justice, with some even calling for Trump to be impeached. That deference likely gave Flynn a far wider berth than the average staffer bringing bad news down on Trump.

Fox News staffers have told CNNMoney that they are frustrated and embarrassed by Hannity's peddling of the conspiracy.

Several staffers have also questioned why Fox News leadership continued to allow Hannity to spread an unproven theory on the network. "Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards".

"We will continue to investigate this story and will provide updates as warranted", the statement added.

Hannity said Tuesday that he had corresponded with Rich's brother and that "out of respect for the family's wishes for now, I am not discussing this matter at this time".

Fox host Sean Hannity, a fervent Trump supporter, became a driving force behind the story. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in an interview on Netherlands TV suggested that Rich may have been a source for the leaks clearinghouse, reigniting conspiracy theories. That also might be why he's curious about Seth Rich's death.

Blake Farenthold, during an appearance on CNN Wednesday morning, offered what seemed to be a wink and nod to the debunked conspiracy theories surrounding the murder of former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.