May 23, 2017

Sean Hannity’s bizarre, unsupported and cruel smears of murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich proves again just how low Hannity is willing to go to try to rescue the falling fortunes of his beloved Donald Trump. It’s reminiscent of his hideous campaign against Terri Schiavo’s husband and his even more dangerous crusade on behalf of rancher Cliven Bundy’s armed insurrection against the federal government.

You may recall that last summer, Rich was shot and killed on the street in Washington, D.C. at about 4 AM. After Julian Assange implied that Rich was a source for the Wikileaks dump showing that the DNC discussed ways of torpedoing Bernie Sanders, Fox News started floating a conspiracy theory that Rich was murdered by a Clinton operative.

The conspiracy theory has been thoroughly debunked. In August, 2016, Slate reported:

Seth Rich was killed last month in Washington, D.C., in an early morning shooting that police have speculated was a failed robbery. Because Rich did voter outreach for the DNC and because we live in a ridiculous world, conspiracy theorists have glommed on to a fantastical story that Rich was an FBI informant meeting with purported agents who were actually a hit team sent by Hillary Clinton. There is of course absolutely zero evidence for this and Snopes has issued a comprehensive debunking of the premise itself (Rich is only 27 and has only worked at the DNC since 2014 so is unlikely to be in possession of information that might take down Clinton, he was on the phone with his girlfriend at the time of the shooting and she hasn’t reported any FBI meeting, there have been a string of robberies in the area, an FBI rendezvous at 4 a.m. only happens in movies, the whole thing is batshit crazy, etc.).

But just as things got very bad for Donald Trump last week, Sean Hannity developed a fascination, some might say "obsession," with this conspiracy theory which was brought back to life by an erroneous local Fox news report (later retracted). For example, on May 16, 2017, the day of the explosive news that Trump had revealed classified information to the Russians, Hannity denounced that report as “fake news” and then suggested that Rich was the real news. It just so happens that Hannity thinks the Rich story could "acquit" Trump:

HANNITY: Also tonight, another massive breaking news story, explosive developments in the mysterious murder of former DNC staffer Seth Rich that could completely shatter the narrative that, in fact, WikiLeaks was working with the Russians, or there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

Now, if true, this could become one of the biggest scandals in American history and could mean that Rich could have been murdered under very suspicious circumstances.

Coincidentally, Russia is also using the story for propaganda:’s bad enough that a cable news host should be allowed to keep promoting such BS. But Hannity is deliberately adding pain to the already-hurting Rich family.

Media Matters wrote today:

While Hannity was pushing new, quickly debunked developments in the story, Rich’s devastated, long-suffering family was demanding Fox retract its reporting on the murder and firing off a cease-and-desist letter to the “private investigator” behind the new wave of stories. But Hannity shows no signs of stopping -- over the weekend he invited on his show Kim Dotcom, a hacker “now fighting extradition to the United States on copyright infringement and wire fraud” who claims to have proof linking Rich and WikiLeaks (none of this makes sense).

By the way, that “private investigator” is Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler.

This is not the first time Hannity has blithely caused additional suffering for vulnerable people based on falsehoods. Remember Terri Schiavo? Hannity set up shop right outside the hospice where Schiavo remained in a persistent vegetative state. Hannity seemed unconcerned about the hardships his circus-like atmosphere was causing other patients and their families coping with death. At the same time, he played fast and loose with the truth to promote his cause of “saving” Schiavo.

Hannity also completely disregarded the lives of federal law enforcers as he deliberately egged on rancher Cliven Bundy’s armed threats against them.

Let’s not forget Hannity’s bogus birtherism which he happily promoted along with Donald Trump, then tried to whitewash.

Hannity seems to have suffered no consequences with those last three examples of cruel journalistic malfeasance. But according to today’s Daily Beast, Hannity’s colleagues are getting fed up with the Rich story:

The Daily Beast spoke to nearly a dozen reporters, pundits, and hosts inside Fox News who all conveyed the same sentiment: Hannity is “embarrassing” the network, and the promotion of the Rich conspiracy theory is senselessly cruel to a grieving family.

“ARE WE STILL AIRING THAT SHIT?!” one Fox News political reporter, who says they are furious that the conservative cable-news giant is entertaining the conspiracy theory, messaged The Daily Beast when informed of recent coverage

Yet the Trump cause outweighs any sense of decency for some people. Yesterday, Newt Gingrich promoted the conspiracy theory on Fox & Friends with no pushback from the hosts.

And today, Geraldo Rivera tweeted:

Watch Hannity discredit legitimate reporting about Trump’s leaking of classified information to Russia while promoting the fake Rich story above, from the May 16, 2017 Hannity show.

Part II is below:

Originally published at

UPDATE: (Karoli)

Fox News has retracted the story they ran on their website. However, as far as we know, Sean Hannity has not backed down on his dogged pursuit of this ugly smear.

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