Speed Reads

the saga continues

Former correspondent for Russian news agency says he was pushed to report on Seth Rich conspiracy theory

A former reporter for the Russian state-owned news site Sputnik told Yahoo News Wednesday he was terminated in late May after refusing to push an already-retracted article about the death of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich that appeared on the Fox News website.

That same article, which suggested Rich had something to do with the leak of DNC documents to WikiLeaks, is now the subject of a lawsuit filed Tuesday by private investigator Rod Wheeler, who alleges the story was made up by Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman and Republican donor Ed Butowsky to advance "a political agenda for the Trump administration." The suit also claims Butowsky suggested Trump gave his input on the story and wanted it to be published. Fox News has denied the story was concocted by Zimmerman to distract from the Russia probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials before the election. The Washington, D.C., police have said they believe Rich was murdered in a botched robbery, and the Rich family has asked people to stop spreading the conspiracy theory about their son's death.

Andrew Feinberg started as Sputnik's White House correspondent around the time President Trump was inaugurated, the first person to ever have the position. He said he didn't have any reservations accepting a job with a foreign state-owned news agency, because he planned on telling the truth in all his reports. He told Yahoo News his boss requested on May 26 he "ask about the case and if those revelations should put an end to the Russia hacking narrative and the investigation," and when he declined, he was handed his walking papers. The entire incident was "disturbing," Feinberg said, adding, "It's really telling that the White House is pushing the same narrative as a state-run Russian propaganda outlet." Sputnik, deemed by U.S. intelligence to be a Russian propaganda machine, did not respond to Yahoo News' request for comment.