Will the Seth Rich murder story leap from fake news to real news?

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.

Who killed Seth Rich?

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“.

Kim Dotcom

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.

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.

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.

Fake news

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See more information about information and misinformation, about truth, and especially these posts…

  1. Learning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America.
  2. Remembering is the first step to learning. Living in the now is ignorance.
  3. Swear allegiance to the truth as a step to reforming America.
  4. The secret source of fake news. Its discovery will change America.
  5. Is Trump a tool of Putin? See the story & the debunking.
  6. Deciphering the scandalous rumors about Trump in Russia.
  7. A new and revolutionary force has appeared in US politics: truth!

9 thoughts on “Will the Seth Rich murder story leap from fake news to real news?”

  1. The only thing that I’m sure about these days is that the amount of “news” that bounces about the globe on any given day is truly staggering. As a layman who grew to mistrust mainstream news sources long ago, I find it nearly impossible to discern between real and fake news and I’m even having trouble finding individual sources I trust. I truly fear that journalism is dead.

    1. Dell Wilson,

      “I truly fear that journalism is dead.”

      Perhaps you have too high standards for journalism. The world has always been complex and confusing. The news has never been perfectly reliable.

      We are fortunately to have so many high-quality news sources to use: the NYT, Reuters, the London Times, the BBC, etc. None are perfect. That’s good. When we read an always fair and accurate morning newspaper it means we’ve died and gone to Heaven.

  2. One major problem with this story from the beginning is the fact that Seth Rich was shot in the back and lived long enough to make it to the hospital. If one really wanted to “silence” someone, why wouldn’t one take the time to put one in his head to guarantee that silence? Last thing they would want is a wounded informant with nothing more to lose. It’s possible that the DNC’s physical opsec is as bad as their cyber opsec but that piece of evidence alone was enough to discount the conspiracy story in my eyes.

    1. phageghost,

      That’s an astute observation. Everybody who has watched modern action films knows about the two “insurance” shots to the head.

      But think of the DNC’s problem! How do you find a competent assassin these days? Perhaps they used Google…

  3. Indeed, modern action films have taught me all I need to know about super-secret-squirrel operations.

    I agree it’s hard to find good help, though. Craigslist just isn’t what it used to be and all the good Libyan hit squads from the Reagan era have their hands full these days.

    1. Phageghost,

      “all the good Libyan hit squads from the Reagan era have their hands full these days.”

      In Libya. It’s one benefit from the Obama-Clinton 12-D chess foreign policy! All the Libyan hit squads are busy in Libya killing Libyans.

  4. I find it hard to trust WAPO’s evaluation of anything and particularly hard to trust them on something that could reflect badly on the DNC. In general, my concerns are that there seem to be many unanswered questions about the Seth Rich murder and I haven’t heard anything about the police or FBI asking or interviewing the half dozen or so people that COULD have the answers.

    1. Allen,

      (1) “I find it hard to trust WAPO’s evaluation”

      It’s not just the WaPo’s evaluation, but that of almost everyone not on the far-right.

      (2) “many unanswered questions about the Seth Rich murder”

      Such as?

      (3) “I haven’t heard anything about the police or FBI asking or interviewing the half dozen or so people that COULD have the answers.”

      Police reports almost never provide that level of detail.

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