Fox News said in a statement: "The accusation that FoxNews.com published Malia Zimmerman's story to help detract from coverage of the Russian Federation collusion issue is completely erroneous". In May, Fox News published a story that quoted Rod Wheeler, a Fox News contributor and former homicide detective hired to investigate Rich's death, saying there was in fact evidence showing Rich had been in contact with Wikileaks.
Fox reported in May that Rich may have leaked DNC emails to Wikileaks past year and that Democrats may have killed him in retaliation. "The retraction of this story is still being investigated internally and we have no evidence that Rod Wheeler was misquoted by Zimmerman". He wants the article out immediately.
Wheeler also says Butowski left him a voicemail that day, saying, "You can feel free to say that the White House is onto this now".More news: Bizarre own goal steals show as Inter Milan beat Chelsea
Fox retracted the story after just a week, admitting it did not meet its journalistic standards.
"The accusation that FoxNews.com published Malia Zimmerman's story to help detract from coverage of the Russian Federation collusion issue is completely erroneous", Wallace said.
The story, originally published on May 16, 2017, cited information from an unnamed Federal Bureau of Investigation official and also attributed two quotes to Wheeler, both of which he now denies ever saying. "As Ed himself has noted, he has never met the President, and the White House has nothing to do with the story".
As for the quotes that Zimmerman used, it is unclear if Wheeler actually told her these. Butowsky's website lists him as a contributor to Breitbart.com and he has been interviewed by Bannon on a Breitbart radio program, according to a recent profile in Buzzfeed.More news: Solar eclipse less than month away
When asked if Sean Spicer met with a conservative donor who was pushing the story, Sanders said, "It doesn't bother me that the press secretary would take a meeting with someone on involved in the media about the story", adding that she takes meeting with members of the press all the time without knowing the story. Wigdor said this would include the president and Spicer.
Wheeler said that he was falsely quoted in the article published May 16 as stating that his investigation found "some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks" and that his investigation showed "someone within the D.C. government, Democratic National Committee or Clinton team is blocking the murder investigation from going forward". He said if I wanted to, he could put me in touch with the white house general counsel. "He requested a 10-minute meeting to catch up".
Now, in the lawsuit, Wheeler claims that Zimmerman, Fox News and Butowsky "created fake news to advance President Trump's agenda". "I [was] being told, 'you will ask this, you will cover this.' For instance, after the gas attack in Syria - that terrible sarin gas attack - I was asked to put questions to the White House that framed the issue in such a way that made it seem like the attack didn't happen - that it was staged".More news: Hillary Clinton's Memoir Will Be a 'Cautionary Tale'