NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik appeared on CNN’s New Day alongside Brian Stelter to provide updates on the lawsuit filed by Rod Wheeler alleging Fox News worked with a Trump-donor to concoct the now-retracted Seth Rich story.
Alisyn Camerota first noted that “Fox News has yet to discipline anyone…two months after pulling the fake news story” — a fact that has reportedly angered members of the network’s newsroom.
Folkenflik, who broke the news of Wheeler’s lawsuit, said that Fox News has done “apparently very little” to address the retraction of a story, “even though it appears from all the evidence [Wheeler] provides in the lawsuit that they acknowledge these quotes were manufactured.”
The NPR reporter also noted that Fox said they spoke with Malia Zimmerman, who wrote the story, but claim they still don’t have any “concrete evidence that the quotes were fabricated.”
Following the retraction of the report, Fox News said in a statement that an internal investigation was being conducted. But there does not seem to have been any disciplinary action taken, over two months later, and Zimmerman appears to still be reporting for FoxNews.com. She has not responded to Mediaite’s requests for comment.
“It doesn’t take that kind of time to figure out what went wrong,” Folkenflik said.
A Fox News spokesperson told Mediaite: “Fox News has retained outside counsel on the matter. Given that this is pending litigation, there will be no further comment.”
Folkenflik also revealed that he had spoken to the Rich family, and they told him that “the story that Fox did on May the 16th was as grievous a blow as the day that their son was killed.”
“Why hasn’t anyone been disciplined at Fox?” Camerota asked Stelter.
“I think it’s one of those sweep it under the proverbial rug situations,” Stelter said. “I think Fox maybe thought they could just act like it never happened.”
Stelter pointed out that the Rich report “was a big story for Fox” as it benefitted President Donald Trump and distracted from the cloud of the Russia investigation dogging his administration.
Folkenflik concluded by arguing that the lawsuit’s allegations that the White House was involved in the drafting of the false report are made more credible by “the interest that Donald Trump takes in television, and the news business, and conspiracy theories.”
“It seems less implausible” than it would in previous White Houses, he said.
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