March 18, 2018

Seth Rich parents sue Fox, Butowsky, Zimmerman

Seth Rich
On March 14 the parents of Seth Rich sued Fox and here is the official filing. Co-defendants are Ed Butowsky and Malia Zimmerman. (Update, Aug. 22: The trial court has dismissed the case, claiming lack of specificity. The family plans to appeal.)

Odds of winning?

Depends on how deep of pockets their lawyers have, and, especially given that it retracted its story, how much Fox wants to fight, and what the Riches want besides monetary compensation.

Fox could settle out-of-court ... but assuming the Riches want more than just money, such settlements in these cases usually involve no admission of wrongdoing, which would probably ixnay that.

Butowsky, especially, and Zimmerman, as individual defendants? If Fox does pursue settling, they're in deep shit.

There are three emotional distress related charges. Lump them as one.

The fourth is tortious interference with contract. That piggybacks on Rod Wheeler's own lawsuit against Fox et al. Part of his original filing has already been dropped. I don't know if any coordination is going on there or not.

The fifth is against Fox only, for negligence in supervising Butowsky and Zimmerman. Again, Fox has an "admission" of sorts, saying it failed its (alleged) usual high editorial standards at the time it withdrew the story.

This all said, unless they have it as unmentioned but included under "other relief," monetary damages and injunctive action as necessary are the only relief being sought.

As for their legal mouthpieces? Susmann Godfrey and Massey & Gail are both high-powered. Larry Tribe is of counsel to the latter, as an indicator.

Through some brief Googling, I have found a couple of other things related to this issue. The biggest? RationalWiki, which trades on the image of movement skepticism being enlightened, is nowhere near that on this issue. It thinks Clint Watts is more enlightened than Seth Rich. Wiki itself is not a lot better.

Both fail in not disentangling Rich as the likely leaker to Julian Assange from the issue of who killed him. THAT latter part has spawned right-wing conspiracies. (I guess it's time to call Jared Beck a winger over this.) It's also got me thinking, based on what was not taken from him, that he was not killed by Russkies or Crowdstrike folks, but that maybe, he was dealing drugs and this was a hit killing for that reason. (That would explain the non-robbery. Calling it a "botched robbery" presumes facts not in evidence.) And, if my theory isn't true, and it was something else non-conspiratorial, that still doesn't mean he wasn't the thief.

But there is good evidence, as I have noted in that link, and that one can find elsewhere, that the Russkies did NOT hack the DNC until the Podesta spearfishing. The original emails likely were stolen and Assange has never directly denied Rich was a Wikileaks source.

And, even if he was NOT the thief, that doesn't mean that this was a Russian hack job.

To address a couple of RationalWiki's claims about Rich and him not being able to steal the emails.
1. His parents say he didn't have access. How do they know that?
2. Assange would have legit reasons to offer a reward. One would be to show he protects sources. Another would be to show he protects anti-Clinton sources. A third would be to fuel conspiracies.
3. Ditto for Kim Dotcom. Why would he reveal source material, even if Rich is dead? Would make him look untrustable. (Kim says, and ardently says, Seth was the leaker.)
4. RT was more responsible than American mainstream media precisely by presenting both sides of this issue.
5. And again? Calling it a "botched robbery" presumes facts not in evidence.
6. RW nowhere addresses the download speed issue.

Related? Movement skepticism, scientific skepticism, or Skeptics™,  call it what you will — just like Gnu Atheism, it's no guarantor of moral or intellectual superiority. And, at least a few such skeptics previously politicized Jill Stein.

So, again:
1. Seth Rich's death is separate from the DNC email thefts.
2. On the pre-Podesta emails from early 2016, at least, evidence points to internal theft, not Russian hacking.
3. There are more than two sides to this issue for sure, per Idries Shah:
“To 'see both sides' of a problem is the surest way to prevent its complete solution. Because there are always more than two sides.”
4. Reject anybody who doesn't accept 1-3.
5. Given all this, Rich's parents have some chance of winning against Butowsky and maybe even against Fox. That said, they too, like Fox et al, have reasons to settle out of court. Discovery issues cut both ways and they risk finding out they are wrong in some of their claims and beliefs about their son.

CJR has some excellent additional insights.


Meanwhile, Ty Clevinger (who is more than too clever by half, I see what I did) has filed an FIOA lawsuit. They don't require "standing," of course.

Of course, our legal beagle has one thing wrong from the start. Since the FBI is NOT investigating the death — that's still with DC Metropolitan Police — it's a non-starter (except to fuel conspiracy theories) to ask it, let alone the NSA et al, for files. Ditto on throwing Hillary in there.

Stick to Booger County Mafia, Ty.

(For people who don't know who he is, I'll have a full-on blog post about him in late April.)

Oh, as Butowsky sues NPR's David Folkenflik (Ty, were you dumb enough to tell him to do this???) this is also a reminder that Rich's brother Aaron, and a former family spokesman, in two separate additional suits, are suing for actual defamation of themselves, not emotional duress via the Seth Rich conspiracy theories.

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