"It's sad but unsurprising that a group of media outlets who have repeatedly lied to the American people would try and manipulate the legacy of a murder victim in order to forward their own political agenda," Bauman told Business Insider. "I think ...and more »
Seth Rich. LinkedIn
The family of Seth Rich, a slain Democratic National Committee staffer, criticized media outlets and people who they suggested used a new report about Rich's contacts before his death as validation of their political ideology.
Late Monday, a private investigator affiliated with the Rich family told Fox 5, a Washington, DC, outlet, that before being fatally shot in July, Rich had contacts with WikiLeaks, which released internal DNC emails last year.
Rod Wheeler, the investigator, who the Rich family said is paid by a third party, suggested the Metropolitan Police Department attempted to cover up the nature of Rich's death on behalf of the DNC, which the police department denied on Tuesday.
The Fox 5 report was featured prominently by top right-leaning outlets, including Breitbart News, the Drudge Report, Fox News, and the "Fox & Friends" morning show.
Asked about the attention the new report received from right-leaning outlets, Brad Bauman, a representative for the Rich family, said the family condemned the attempt to politicize Rich's death.
"It's sad but unsurprising that a group of media outlets who have repeatedly lied to the American people would try and manipulate the legacy of a murder victim in order to forward their own political agenda," Bauman told Business Insider. "I think there is a special place in hell for people like that."
Many top right-leaning outlets have dismissed intelligence and law-enforcement findings that Russia hacked and leaked private DNC emails in which top staffers were hostile to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Democratic primary.
The insinuation that Rich leaked the emails has reignited the claim online that Rich's dissatisfaction with the DNC, not Russian interference, influenced the election. On Monday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange retweeted the Fox 5 story.
Rich's family said Wheeler's assertions were "unsubstantiated claims" and that they saw "no facts, we have seen no evidence, we have been approached with no emails and only learned about this when contacted by the press."
"Even if tomorrow an email was found, it is not a high enough bar of evidence to prove any interactions as emails can be altered, and we've seen that those interested in pushing conspiracies will stop at nothing to do so," the family said in a statement.
The family's statement continued:
"We are a family who is committed to facts, not fake evidence that surfaces every few months to fill the void and distract law enforcement and the general public from finding Seth's murderers. The services of the private investigator who spoke to press was offered to the Rich family and paid for by a third party, and contractually was barred from speaking to press or anyone outside of law enforcement or the family unless explicitly authorized by the family."
Rich's family has repeatedly attempted to quash online theories that there was a conspiratorial motive behind Rich's death. Police said Rich was shot during an attempted robbery while he was walking home from a bar in Washington, DC.
In August, WikiLeaks promised a $20,000 reward to whoever identified Rich's killer.
In a statement to Business Insider after WikiLeaks announced the reward, the family thanked investigators but said attempts to politicize Rich's death by floating unfounded theories about the shooting were "actually causing more harm than good and impeding on the ability for law enforcement to properly do their job."
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