Summary: The right (or alt-right) is abuzz with rumors about the Democratic Party’s murder of Seth Rich. It’s as big as the news about Obama’s fake birth certificate! Will this story leap from fake news to real news? A colorful character from the fringes of the internet industry promises to make it happen on Tuesday. It’s worth imagining what that might mean. Update: see the big reveal at the end of this post.
Was Seth Rich killed by agents of the Democratic National Committee as punishment for his leak of emails to WikiLeaks? The WaPo debunks the story: “The Seth Rich conspiracy shows how fake news still works“.
“On July 10, at 4:19 a.m., gunfire was detected in the District’s Bloomingdale neighborhood. Not five minutes later, police found Seth Rich, a 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer, lying on the ground, dying from a bullet wound to his back. A conscious Rich was transported to the hospital; by daybreak, he was dead.
“Nearly one year later, Rich’s death remains one of America’s thousands of unsolved murders — and the focus of endless conspiracy theories, spread this past week by Fox News, alt-right social media, a local D.C. news station and the Russian embassy in Britain.
“The reemergence of the conspiracy theory this week, which did not lack for real news, revealed plenty about the fake news ecosystem (or to use BuzzFeed’s useful phrase, ‘the upside-down media’) in the Trump era. It also happened to cause untold pain for the Rich family, which has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the so-called private investigator who led this dive back into the fever swamp.”
The WaPo account omits a few details. David Gilmour at the Daily Dot fills in the gap in “How the Seth Rich murder conspiracy theory went mainstream“.
“The Metropolitan Police Department maintains that Rich was killed in a robbery gone wrong, although police say no valuable possessions were stolen from him. With no witnesses or information leads, the case remains unsolved.
“Less than two weeks after Rich’s murder, WikiLeaks began to publish the DNC leaks. The information dump contained 44,000 internal emails that caused havoc for the party by reinforcing the narrative that the DNC preferred Clinton over challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The leaks, which began just before the party’s national convention, resulted in the resignation of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida as the DNC’s chairwoman.”
The WaPo and Daily Dot show that almost every aspect of this conspiracy theory is bogus. Also see David Weigel’s WaPo article “The Seth Rich conspiracy’s biggest myths, explained“. But new stories go viral on the alt-right rumor mill, then quickly crash. For example, the FBI is not investigating Rich’s murder, and they do not have information linking him to Wikileaks — despite Fox News’ claims (which they’ve retracted).
Of course, that has not stopped the rumors. It’s too fun and useful a story to die. Even the clowns are joining in: “Newt Gingrich Pours Fuel on the Flames of Seth Rich Murder Conspiracy“.
The latest chapter: enter Kim Dotcom
A new voice enters the circus: Kim Schmitz, aka Kim Dotcom. The WaPo describes him only as “the accused copyright violator Kim Dotcom, who is facing extradition”. That’s not wrong, but it’s not a fair description. It’s a clear sign of biased reporting of the kind that has eroded away American’s confidence in newspapers — and put their financial health at risk.
- For a briefing on this colorful and controversial figure, see his Wikipedia entry.
- For a more interesting description, see Nora Young’s “Fraudster or Folk Hero? The story of Kim Dotcom“.
- To understand the US government’s attack on him, see Mike Masnick’s article at TechDirt: “How The US Government Legally Stole Millions From Kim Dotcom“.
As so often the case these days, Kim delivered his bombshell on Twitter. On Tuesday we will learn if it is live or a dud.
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 19, 2017
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 20, 2017
I’m meeting my legal team on Monday. I will issue a statement about #SethRich on Tuesday. Please be patient. This needs to be done properly.
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 20, 2017
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 21, 2017
What if Kim Dotcom provides real evidence about the conspiracy?
The odds are small that Kim Dotcom will provide anything more than yet another story. But what if he does?
We can’t make good guesses what he’ll say. But just validating one of the alt-right’s wild conspiracy theories would put them in a different league. Those in the “movement” would be emboldened. They would become a more powerful force in US politics, and their other theories would be taken more seriously. It would be an inflection point in US politics.
Looking to the future, the alt-right is growing in size and sophistication. The Kim Dotcom revelation might be a dud. But even a blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut. If not now, someday they might find a real story.
Update: Kim Dotcom speaks!
He posted a statement at his website It says that he has nothing to say to us! This looks like a successful publicity stunt. It’s more evidence that the “alt-right” is a haven for conspiracy-mongers and the gullible.
“… I have consulted with my lawyers. I accept that my full statement should be provided to the authorities and I am prepared to do that so that there can be a full investigation. “
Despite the total lack of substance, some of the Right’s conspiracy-mongers go wild. These incidents provide value: they show who do not deserve your attention and trust. Life is short; make it count.
— Jim Hoft (@gatewaypundit) May 23, 2017
For More Information
- Learning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America.
- Remembering is the first step to learning. Living in the now is ignorance.
- Swear allegiance to the truth as a step to reforming America.
- The secret source of fake news. Its discovery will change America.
- Is Trump a tool of Putin? See the story & the debunking.
- Deciphering the scandalous rumors about Trump in Russia.
- A new and revolutionary force has appeared in US politics: truth!