Newly unearthed emails show how Fox News scrambled after their Seth Rich smear story fell apart
Sean Hannity (CBS News/screen grab)

Fox News back in 2017 published a story that falsely claimed that murdered former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich had been a source to WikiLeaks of internal DNC emails.

The story at the time appeared to lend credence to the conspiracy theory that Rich had been murdered by the Democratic Party for stealing its emails on behalf of the website, which began releasing them during the 2016 presidential campaign in a bid to undermine Hillary Clinton's candidacy.

However, the story quickly fell apart when a source quoted within the story, private investigator Rod Wheeler, claimed that Fox News had fabricated quotes in which he said that he "absolutely" found evidence of contacts between Rich and WikiLeaks in the weeks leading up to his murder.

The Daily Beast is now reporting that emails that have been unearthed in a lawsuit by the Rich family against Fox News show that Fox News online editor Greg Wilson actually believed that the story would prove to be true even after he had been forced to retract it amid pleading from the Rich family.

“I hope all is well, and am sorry about how things worked out,” Wilson wrote to Ed Butowsky, a wealthy Republican and Fox News regular who had been pushing the network to run the story. “I still believe we will be vindicated.”

And despite overseeing a disastrous story that has now subjected Fox to a lawsuit from the Rich family, Wilson "has since been promoted to managing editor of," The Daily Beast notes.

Indeed, Fox News host Sean Hannity initially doubled down on the Seth Rich story even after it had been retracted, although he subsequently backed off at the reported urging of management.