In case you are not familiar with the murder of Seth Rich, let Wikipedia fill you in on the details:
The murder of Seth Rich occurred on July 10, 2016, at 4:20 a.m. in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Rich died about an hour and a half after being shot twice in the back. The perpetrators were never apprehended; police suspected he had been the victim of an attempted robbery.
The 27-year-old Rich was an employee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and his murder spawned several right-wing conspiracy theories, including the false claim, contradicted by the law enforcement branches that investigated the murder, that Rich had been involved with the leaked DNC emails in 2016. It was also contradicted by the July 2018 indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence agents for hacking the e-mail accounts and networks of Democratic Party officials and by the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion the leaked DNC emails were part of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. Fact-checking websites like PolitiFact, Snopes, and FactCheck.org stated that the theories were false and unfounded. The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post wrote that the promotion of these conspiracy theories was an example of fake news
Rich’s family denounced the conspiracy theorists and said that those individuals were exploiting their son’s death for political gain, and their spokesperson called the conspiracy theorists “disgusting sociopaths”. They requested a retraction and apology from Fox News after the network promoted the conspiracy theory, and sent a cease and desist letter to the investigator Fox News used. The investigator stated that he had no evidence to back up the claims which Fox News attributed to him. Fox News issued a retraction, but did not apologize or publicly explain what went wrong. In response, the Rich family sued Fox News in March 2018 for having engaged in “extreme and outrageous conduct” by fabricating the story defaming their son and thereby intentionally inflicting emotional distress on them. Fox News reached a seven-figure settlement with the Rich family in October 2020.
Fast forward to the present and this story in Rolling Stone:
It was the headline that made federal prosecutor Deborah Sines sit up straight in her chair.
For nearly a year, she’d been investigating the murder of 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. During that time, she had watched as viral conspiracy theories and fantastical speculation about Rich had spread beyond anyone’s imagination, overshadowing the facts about Rich’s life and death. The theories had spun so out of control that they’d interfered with Sines’ own investigation, forcing her to run down bizarre tips and rule them out. But she had never imagined what she now saw before her eyes: A pro-Trump blogger and vocal Rich conspiracist had published the name of the closest thing she had to a witness in the case.
Until that moment, the witness’s identity wasn’t public. That was by intent. Sines knew how dangerous it could be for a potential murder witness to have their identity revealed. A decade earlier she had prosecuted a notorious D.C. serial murderer who specifically targeted people in his neighborhood who had cooperated with the police and U.S. attorney’s office. Now her quasi-witness in the Rich murder had been outed, which sent the rampant speculation and conspiracy theorizing about Seth Rich into overdrive.
What Sines would later discover is that the person who leaked the name of the only witness to Rich’s murder was a Trump-loving MAGA cop in DC who owned gyms and was a sucker for conspiracy theories. Note that Julian Assange also played a big part in this, and not a flattering part.
You can read the rest of the fascinating Rolling Stone story here.