A journalist for the Russian state-owned news organization Sputnik said he was pressured to report on a debunked conspiracy theory linking a former DNC staffer to the “transparency” website WikiLeaks, Yahoo News reports.
Andrew Feinberg, the former White House correspondent for the Russian propaganda outlet Sputnik, said he was asked on May 26 to bring up the death of Seth Rich during a press briefing with then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
“It was, ‘we want you to ask about Seth Rich and just, you know, ask about the case and if those revelations should put an end to the Russia hacking narrative and the investigation,’” Feinberg told Yahoo News.
That request was made three days after Fox News retracted its original report (published a full week earlier), which suggested Rich had ties to WikiLeaks and may have been murdered because he leaked DNC emails to the transparency site.
According to Feinberg, he declined to bring up Rich at the press briefing, calling the request “disturbing.” He told Yahoo he was fired that same day.
The former Sputnik reporter’s accusations take on a new light in the wake of a bombshell lawsuit filed Monday that alleges Fox News conspired with the Donald Trump administration to push the Rich-WikiLeaks murder story in order to detract from the Russia investigation.
Washington-based private detective Rod Wheeler filed suit alleging Republican donor and Fox News contributor Ed Butowsky worked with Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman to manufacture a story about Rich’s connection with WikiLeaks. There’s no evidence to suggest the slain DNC staffer had ties to the transparency organization.
The suit also alleges the reporters worked with the White House to push the article out, and that Trump himself had a keen interest in the story’s publication.
“It’s really telling that the White House is pushing the same narrative as a state-run Russian propaganda outlet,” Feinberg told Yahoo.