In response to Wheeler's lawsuit, Fox News' Jay Wallace told Deadline 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".
The suit, filed at the USA federal court house in Manhattan on Tuesday, is brought by Rod Wheeler, a Fox News contributor and retired police detective, against the television network, one of its journalists and another of its contributors.
In the original report, Wheeler was quoted as saying he "absolutely" found evidence that Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks in the weeks before the website published stolen DNC emails that US intelligence agencies believe were stolen by Russian hackers.More news: Hillary Clinton's Memoir Will Be a 'Cautionary Tale'
Wheeler cites a text he received from Fox commentator Ed Butowsky saying, "The president just read the article". He wants the article out immediately Its now all up to you.
It also claims Butowsky and Zimmerman met with Spicer in April to discuss the Rich story, which President Trump reviewed, provided editorial input, and then urged for the story to be aggressively pushed on the new outlet's website.
Wheeler, who was hired to investigate on behalf of the Rich family, contradicted details of the story after it was published.
According to the suit, the story was meant to undermine the public's belief in the US intelligence community's conclusion that Russian Federation hacked the DNC and obtained the emails ultimately released by Wikileaks. Butowsky also said he was joking about Trump's involvement.More news: Bowled over by Mithali Raj & Co's show, city girls bat for cricket
When Wheeler asked to have his statements removed from the story, Butowsky told him "the quotes were included because that is the way the President (Trump) wanted the article", Wheeler charges.
More intriguing is the alleged White House angle for the story. "And tomorrow, let's close this deal, whatever we've got to do", Butowsky told Wheeler in a voicemail. "But don't feel the pressure". However, in a little-noticed statement on May 22 from Wheeler published on FetchYourNews, the former D.C. detective said, "I am of the personal opinion that the information/article reported by FoxNews Channel last Tuesday was essentially correct and worthy of further investigation". Reporter: Not long after, spicer denied any knowledge of the Seth rich story on fox.
"It's completely untrue that he or the White House were involved in the story". The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of NY, alleges Butowsky and Zimmerman kept in regular contact with Trump administration officials on the story, and that President Donald Trump himself read the article before it was published. In a statement, Spicer said Tuesday, "Ed is a longtime supporter of the president's agenda who often appears in the media". Butowsky said this was "tongue-in-cheek". "He requested a 10-minute meeting to catch up".More news: Nawaz Sharif to hold key party meeting to choose successor
Did Fox News and the White House really create fake news?