by Elizabeth Vos, Disobedient Media:
Cassandra Fairbanks of Big League Politics released audio today revealing journalist Seymour Hersh had stated that Seth Rich provided the DNC emails to Wikileaks. The stunning audio files also appear to contradict claims made by private investigator Rod Wheeler in a defamation suit filed today against Fox News stemming from allegedly false quotation in their report on the investigation of Rich’s death. Media furor surrounding this case has centered on both the dismissal of Rich as a source for Wikileaks, and allegations that the Trump White House had “concocted” the story with Fox News. However, statements made by Wheeler and Hersh in a second audio file appear to undermine claims made in Wheeler’s suit, with Hersh’s statement going even further by directly stating that Seth Rich had been the source of Wikileaks DNC emails.
The first audio clip published by Fairbanks earlier today revealed Rod Wheeler discussing his investigation into Rich’s death. The conversation includes allusions to Rich’s brother, stating that Aaron Rich stalled the investigation into Seth’s potential connection to Wikileaks. The audio released by Big League Politics is particularly relevant to the statements Wheeler made to Fox News which were quoted in their controversial article published in May. Dispute over this citation serves as the basis for a defamation suit Wheeler initiated against Fox today.
Wheeler had been employed by Seth Rich’s family as a private investigator in order to investigate Rich’s unsolved murder. Wheeler’s suit claims that the Trump administration coordinated with Fox, and that the company had ‘invented’ quotes from him. The explosive allegations made by Wheeler caused a firestorm in the mainstream media.
The second audio clip appears especially significant as it depicts Seymour Hersh alleging that Seth Rich had kept DNC emails in a protected drop box, which was eventually accessed by Wikileaks. He can also be heard calling former CIA Director John Brennan an “a**hole.” Big League Politics also noted that Hersh cited an FBI document and an NSA report in alleging these details.
Disobedient Media spoke with Charles Grapski, a legal and political theorist who serves as Director of the Open Records Project and the Director of the Fair Elections Initiative. He told us that he believed Wheeler’s defamation claims were weak, with misquotation being an unstable basis to prove defamation of character had occurred.
No false statement was actively made about Wheeler in the original Fox story, but instead refers to incorrect attribution made in Wheeler’s suit. It also appears that many statements in the complaint could be based on hearsay. The civil rights claim added to allegations of defamation are especially bizarre considering that it indicates Fox News should have hired Wheeler as an employee; while simultaneously claiming Fox had defamed him. Grapski stated via Twitter that the newly published audio had undermined Wheeler’s defamation claim. A Federal civil rights claim would also allow Wheeler to collect his attorney’s fees from the defendants.
Escalating media furor in the wake of Wheeler’s suit has labelled Seth Rich’s possible association with Wikileaks to be “baseless.” These conclusions were to some extent counteracted by the audio published by Fairbanks which appears to contradict his claims against Fox to some extent. If the audio clips had not been released, the media firestorm regarding Wheeler’s suit may have effectively replaced the discredited Russian hacking narrative as a focus of legacy media deflection from allegations of severe corruption within the Democratic party.
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