Rich’s slaying is still unsolved, although D.C. police maintain their belief that it resulted from a robbery gone wrong.
What You Need to Know: WikiLeaks
Ed Butowsky is a wealthy Texan with ties to White House strategist Steve Bannon. The suit alleges that he met with former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and that in May, before the story ran, President Donald Trump saw the article. According to the suit, Butowsky texted Wheeler, “The president just read the article. He wants the article out immediately.”
On Tuesday, reporter Olivia Nuzzi of New York Magazine wrote on Twitter that Butowsky had refuted the story, saying Wheeler needed money and had sought a job in the Trump administration.
The byline on the Fox News story belonged to Malia Zimmerman, who has stayed quiet since the story was retracted in May. NPR reports that she is still with Fox News, working on stories unrelated to the Rich slaying.
Wheeler alleges that he was deliberately misquoted on two occasions. The quotes appeared in the Fox News story, after which Wheeler claims he contacted Zimmerman, saying that he was misquoted and the quotes should be removed. The suit says Zimmerman wanted to remove the contentious quotes, but her bosses at Fox News told her to leave them in the story.
The suit also says that after the story ran, Wheeler agreed to go on Sean Hannity's Fox News show on May 16 and did not reveal his misgivings about the story on-air — although he said on the show that he had no direct knowledge of Rich's emails, according to NPR.
The suit further alleges that Wheeler, who is black, was the victim of racial discrimination at Fox News.
Responding to Rare's inquiries, Fox News wrote:
"The accusation that FoxNews.com published Malia Zimmerman’s story to help detract from coverage of the Russia collusion issue is completely erroneous. The retraction of this story is still being investigated internally and we have no evidence that Rod Wheeler was misquoted by Zimmerman. Additionally, FOX News vehemently denies the race discrimination claims in the lawsuit — the dispute between Zimmerman and Rod Wheeler has nothing to do with race."