How a Fringe Conspiracy Theory Made Its Way to Sean Hannity's Broadcast

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The story had remained online for nearly a week after CNN pointed out basic problems with its assertions.

News of the family's request comes just a day after Fox News retracted a story that claimed Rich may have been behind a breach of the DNC's email servers, where Wikileaks obtained thousands of internal email communications that it leaked to the public.

"The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting", the network said in a statement.

Here's the full statement provided to us by Cars.com. Hours after Wheeler's report, he told CNN that his "information" was in fact "from the reporter at Fox News", not based on hard evidence or any of his own original findings or sources, including at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Seth Rich was a major supporter of Bernie Sanders who worked as a data analyst for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) during the 2016 presidential primaries.

Matt Boyle, the Washington editor of the far-right website Breitbart, thought Fox News had wimped out.

During a CNN interview this morning, Congressman Blake Farenthold of Texas cited online conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Seth Rich, suggesting there should be a Congressional investigation into this matter.

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SEAN HANNITY: Another massive breaking news story, explosive developments in the mysterious murder of former DNC staffer Seth Rich. No real evidence has been provided to support such claims.

Perhaps most telling was the reaction from Fox News' own primetime host, Sean Hannity, who has been one of the loudest voices over the last week promoting the conspiracy theory.

And then there is Fox News.

The speculation about Rich's death - and its implications for an embattled president - captivated audiences in the right-wing media sphere, from Hannity's prime-time show to more obscure but influential websites like The Gateway Pundit, which rose to prominence previous year in part by spreading rumors about Hillary Clinton's health.

Meanwhile, The Daily Beast reported earlier this week that staff members and reporters at Fox News found Hannity's insistence that this story has merit to be "embarrassing" and "gross". Monica's case was nothing until Roger Ailes took the reigns at Fox News and ran the story relentlessly. The key source for the article said he has no knowledge of any contact between Rich and WikiLeaks and added that he only heard of possible evidence from a Fox News reporter. On television Tuesday night, Hannity said he would no longer talk about the story "out of respect for the family's wishes - for now". But that doesn't mean I accept everything he does or says uncritically. If you'll recall, he famously said he had a way to recover all of Hillary Clinton's deleted emails, yet somehow, he was never able to make them reappear. "I promise you I am not going to stop doing my job".

"These are questions that I have a moral obligation to ask", Hannity said on his radio show, shortly after Fox News announced its mistake. But how it got started in the first place seems to have ties to a White House official, specifically Steve Bannon.

When Seth Rich's Gmail account received an alert this week from Mega.com, attempting to start a new account on a website created by the New Zealand-based Internet businessman and convicted hacker Kim Dotcom, his family knew that something was off...

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