Tuesday's lawsuit by Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler accusing the network and a wealthy GOP donor of working with the White House to promote a quickly retracted FoxNews.com article on the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich has dragged President Trump, his aides, and Russia into the Rich imbroglio. But it also has Fox News employees wondering why nobody has been fired or exonerated since their network pulled the May 16 article on May 23, saying it did not meet "the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting," Oliver Darcy reports at CNNMoney, citing half a dozen people spread throughout Fox News.
In his lawsuit, Wheeler says reporter Malia Zimmerman made up quotes attributed to him suggesting he had evidence that Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks before he was killed in what Washington, D.C., police say was likely a botched robbery. Trump supporter Ed Butowsky hired him, Wheeler claims, then accompanied him to the White House and coached Fox News personalities to spin the story as vindication for Trump, suggesting it disproves the assessment that DNC emails were hacked and leaked by Russians. If Wheeler's allegations are true, "it's really messed up," one Fox News on-air personality told CNN. Another employee said, "People need to start getting canned over the [Seth Rich] thing."
An unidentified senior Fox News employee was more blunt. "They don't want to acknowledge that they f--ked up," the senior employee said, adding that either the article was published without a top editor reviewing it, breaking protocol, or the editor saw it and gave it the green light. "Both situations are really bad," but "I think the lack of transparency is not that surprising," the person said, continuing:
But it really forces the question, how much journalistic integrity does Fox News really have? Because most other news outlets, these situations come up, but they are dealt with appropriately. People are held accountable. People are fired, they are disciplined or whatever. But this is like classic Fox. No one ever gets fired from Fox for publishing a story that isn't true. [Senior Fox News employee, to CNNMoney]
On Tuesday, Fox News president of news Jay Wallace said they're still uncovering what went wrong: "The retraction of this story is still being investigated internally and we have no evidence that Rod Wheeler was misquoted by Zimmerman." Read more at CNNMoney.