Seth Rich was thoughtlessly murdered in his own neighborhood – one of many crime-heavy Washington, D.C. areas – on July 10, 2016, for seemingly no reason. Local police haven’t been successful in their efforts to find motives that fuelled the killing, or any suspects of interest.
The young, 20-something Rich’s parents, Joel and Mary Rich of Omaha, Nebraska, are riding on the coattails of an unresolved legal suit brought against Fox News by those innocent parents. Joel and Mary claim they were traumatized by Fox News’s “sham story,” causing both of them pain, shame, and suffering.
As alleged, Fox News on-air personalities Malia Zimmerman and Ed Butowsky, both listed as defendants alongside Fox News in the suit, conspired to fuel a totally false theory about Rich’s death.
Here’s what Zimmerman and Butowsky asserted, more or less: Republican and right-wing groups – in America, those two terms are essentially the same – had touted a false theory that Seth Rich was murdered in response to allegedly passing on thousands of Democratic National Committee emails to WikiLeaks roughly two years ago. Since the emails unarguably harmed Democratic candidates’ chances of winning, the false theory circulated as fact that Rich was killed in retaliation to betraying the DNC could have made sense.
You likely already know about this issue, as it’s been circulated throughout news media outlets across the past year-plus, but you might not understand the oddity that is the basis for the Rich family’s claim.
Intentional infliction of emotional distress – often shortened to IIED – creates a basis on which claimants can sue others for acting with outrageous character that “[goes] beyond all possible bounds of decency.”
IIED serves as the grounds for the case in question, which states that on-air personalities – Zimmerman was a full-time anchor, whereas Butowsky was a less-frequent contributor – Butowsky and Zimmerman, alongside Fox News, purposefully exploited the murder of son Set “through lies, misrepresentations, and half-truths.”
Joel has allegedly suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, whereas Mary has been weighed down by the symptoms of social anxiety disorder, both of which purportedly stem directly from Fox News’s coverage.
Traditionally, courts often don’t side with claimants that point their proverbial fingers at media members’ liability. Experts believe the case is strong for the Rich family, supported strongly by the fact the plaintiffs were subjected to invasive, confrontative, and aggressive methods of news reporting.