In May 2017, Fox News published a report alleging that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich — slain the previous summer in an unsolved shooting in D.C. — had leaked leaked thousands of DNC emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign, and that the party may have been involved in his death. While the reporting was shoddy, featuring fabricated quotes from a private investigator, it also made unsubstantiated claims countering the findings of multiple intelligence agencies, which determined that hackers connected to Russia broke into Democratic Party servers.
The story was retracted after a week for not being “subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting,” but in the interim, Fox News and Fox Business Network hosts including Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs discussed the allegations in detail. After the network removed the article from its site, Hannity said on his radio show that he “retracted nothing,” though he added later that he would stop discussing the story “out of respect for the family’s wishes — for now.”
Over three years later, Fox News has reached a settlement with the parents of the late 27-year-old, Mary and Joel Rich, who first sued the media company in 2018. “The settlement with Fox News closes another chapter in our efforts to mourn the murder of our beloved Seth, whom we miss every single day,” the Riches wrote in a statement published on Tuesday. “We are pleased with the settlement of this and sincerely hope that the media will take genuine caution in the future.” Neither Fox News or the Nebraska couple disclosed the terms of the settlement. Though the network issued a statement that they were “pleased with the resolution” and hoped that “this enables Mr. and Mrs. Rich to find a small degree of peace and solace moving forward,” NPR states that neither side disclosed if the company had apologized to the family.
The settlement isn’t the only court-related development in recent weeks that paints Fox News’ editorial product in an unflattering light. In September, a federal judge dismissed a defamation suit filed by Karen McDougal against Tucker Carlson. While the network said in a statement that the lawsuit “attempted to silence spirited opinion commentary on matters of public concern,” the judge ultimately determined that Carlson’s claims did not rise to the standard of actual malice because no “reasonable viewer” could take the host’s “non-literal commentary” seriously.