SocraticGadfly: Seth Rich parents sue Fox, Butowsky, Zimmerman and 2nd Circuit reinstates lawsuit

March 18, 2018

Seth Rich parents sue Fox, Butowsky, Zimmerman
and 2nd Circuit reinstates lawsuit


Update, Sept. 13, 2019: The Second Court of Appeals has YES, YES, YES reinstated the lawsuit after district court dismissed it a year ago.

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.

(Breaking update, July 9, 2019: A new Yahoo News bombshell says Russian intelligence, specifically its foreign intelligence agency, the SVR, was behind the Seth Rich conspiracy theories.)

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.

Update: That new news could increase their odds.

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.


Anyway, to continue the update, I want to quote details from the appellate court ruling.

First, Fox is dumb enough, arrogant enough, or both, to shoot itself in the foot.
he 2nd Circuit noted that Fox News guests continued to reference the retracted article for months and that Fox News to this day makes available online at least two videos repeating almost verbatim the content of the story. The appeals court said it accessed one video on Wednesday.
I know part of this is arrogance mixed with pandering to wingnuts who are in Cucker Tarlson territory. But, seriously, until the appeals court completed its hearing and ruled, you couldn’t take this offline?

Then this:
(T)he 2nd Circuit noted that internet-based theories that Seth Rich had leaked emails and then was assassinated were contradicted by official U.S. intelligence reports.
And no, conspiracy theorists, this isn’t the “17 agencies” at the start of 2017. This is off the Mueller Report.

And, if you want to say, “Mueller only looked at ‘mirrors’ of the DNC servers” or whatever, well, you can see just what Fox raises on those lines in discovery, can’t you?

Let’s close with this:
Attorney Lenny Gail, representing (Joel and Mary Rich), said the ruling “clears the way for a thorough investigation into the facts. We will now obtain documents from Fox News and other parties and take testimony under oath from those involved.”
Let’s bring that on!

And now, back to the original post, with a few edits here and there..


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 and Gail are both high-powered. Larry Tribe is of counsel to the latter, as an indicator.

That said, a number of sites, including RationalWiki fail in not disentangling Rich as what some may have thought to be the leaker to Julian Assange from the issue of who killed him. (I said this in early 2018, when I still was willing to entertain the idea that, for whatever reason, maybe Rich did leak the emails, while still rejecting the idea that some conspiracy murdered 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.)

Update, Nov. 22, 2019, related to that and Crowdstrike:

Back to the original.

And, yes, that theory above is probably controversial too, to say the least. But, IMO, it would explain how the scene looked more than "botched robbery."

Updated analysis: But, no, Seth Rich didn't leak emails from anything I could tell. This first sounded tempting, but after I read about the split within VIPS and saw more about how, indeed, Ray McGovern et al went looking for and found their own "Curveball," I realized what a crock of whataboutism was being peddled by a lot of people. It sounded "tempting"; hey, it halfway sucked in Sy Hersh. But, as I get older, I look more critically sooner at such things. Fortunately, 15 months ago and more, I'd already let this one go. By August 2018, I'd done a Google Trends search, as well as reading what the VIPS dissenters said, per that "Curveball" link. I then came across Duncan Campbell's work right after I dropped that post. The Google Trends search and some other things were a part of nailing this conspiracy theory coffin shut for me, as I note in this post.

Meanwhile, Ty Clevenger (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.

(Update, April 8, 2021: Until reading Glenn Greenwald's "No Place to Hide," I didn't know Campbell's background. Well, Duncan Campbell, as the man who first exposed the GCHQ by name and the "Five Eyes," knows his shit. As a man earlier targeted for prosecution under Britain's Official Secrets Act, he has no love lost for the national security state or its smears. So, his pronouncements re the Seth Rich case, and his skill in getting the information, should be taken with the utmost seriousness.)

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.

July 24, 2020: Clevenger et al now want to have a totally new round of discovery in the Aaron Rich suit. Proving that he, and his client, are both Seth Rich conspiracy theorists, they both want that discovery to include a nameless former British ambassador to Uzbekistan who is almost surely Assange toady Craig Murray.

Worse yet on the discovery version of barratry AND the clearest demonstration yet that this case is asshattery? Wanting to RE-depose Ellen Ratner, whom I thought was a friendly witness type. Turns out Butowsky didn't like her testimony. Oops. 

Seriously, Butowsky is a clown, a buffoon, an idiot, and apparently a direct and indirect liar.  He'd be funny if we weren't talking about a death-related conspiracy theory. He did a self-own on Andrew Cuomo's show three full years ago:

He's not even that good of a dodger! And, on Aug. 1, though there's no blue check mark, it sure reads like the real Butowsky decided to follow me. (And blocked other people on a group thread.)

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