The Seth Rich conspiracy started as a Russian memo, grabbed by right-wing outlets, snatched by Steve Bannon, and shouted from the rooftops by Sean Hannity.
July 9, 2019

There's a new podcast out this week, the third anniversary of Seth Rich's murder. Sean Hannity shouted conspiracies from his show on Fox News, but the conspiracy itself started with, of course, Russia and a fake news bulletin from their propaganda outlet SVR. Yahoo News:

The Russian effort to exploit Rich’s tragic death didn’t stop with the fake SVR bulletin. Over the course of the next two and a half years, the Russian government-owned media organizations RT and Sputnik repeatedly played up stories that baselessly alleged that Rich, a relatively junior-level staffer, was the source of Democratic Party emails that had been leaked to WikiLeaks. It was an idea first floated by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who on Aug. 9, 2016, announced a $20,000 reward for information about Rich’s murder, saying — somewhat cryptically — that “our sources take risks.”

At the same time, online trolls working in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the Internet Research Agency (IRA) — the same shadowy outfit that conducted the Russian social media operation during the 2016 election — aggressively boosted the conspiracy theories. IRA-created fake accounts, masquerading as those of American citizens or political groups, tweeted and retweeted more than 2,000 times about Rich, helping to keep the bogus claims about his death in the social media bloodstream, according to an analysis of a database of Russia troll accounts by Yahoo News.

Michael Isikoff appeared on Morning Joe Tuesday to expand the story and connect the Fox News dots:

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: It was classic Russian active measures which the Soviets did during the Cold War, planting conspiracy theories in various newspapers around the world. In this case, she picked an obscure website that's a frequent vehicle for Russian propaganda. And it just grew from there, and we trace it all the way directly to the Trump White House where Steve Bannon is texting to a CBS journalist in 2017 calling saying "huge story, he was a Bernie guy" about Seth Rich, which was not true. "It was a contract kill, obviously." [said Bannon's text]. So you go from the Kremlin straight through the alt-right websites.

And the timing is so interesting here. The week that this breaks on Fox News in a story they later had to retract and acknowledge was -- "didn't meet their editorial standards", Sean Hannity is shouting it from the rooftops. What's going on that week? It's the week that Mueller is appointed. It's the week Comey is fired. It's when the Russia story is gearing up. What better way to deflect from the Russia story than to point the finger at this, you know, "shot in an armed robbery." "It wasn't the Russians; it was Seth Rich!" That is what -- you know, that was the subtext of what Sean Hannity was pushing that week. Who does he have on? Jay Sekulow. They didn't mention it, but who had just been named as Trump's lawyer in the Russia investigation. What is he saying on Fox News? "This undercuts the whole Russia narrative." That was the message they were pushing with this.

The new podcast is here.

Note: The Russia SVR connection was reported two years ago by The Observer. Yahoo News take note.

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