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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Reporter says ‘Russian propaganda outlet’ pushed him to cover conspiracy theory

    Reporter says ‘Russian propaganda outlet’ pushed him to cover conspiracy theory at the center of a White House lawsuit

    Hunter Walker National Correspondent
    ,Yahoo NewsAugust 2, 2017


    Andrew Feinberg (Photo courtesy of Andrew Feinberg) More

    WASHINGTON — Reporter Andrew Feinberg says a Russian state-owned news site he once worked for pressured him to advance a conspiracy theory about the fatal shooting of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.


    Feinberg, who was the White House correspondent for Sputnik, first made the allegations when he left the Russian outlet in May. However, his story is newly relevant in light of a lawsuit filed this week that accused President Trump and the White House of playing a role in a “fake news” story designed to advance the same conspiracy theory.


    Feinberg started at Sputnik in January, just as Trump took office. He was the outlet’s first reporter to work inside the West Wing. In a conversation with Yahoo News on Wednesday, Feinberg alleged that Sputnik wanted him to bring up a news article that’s at the center of the lawsuit in the White House press briefing room.


    The story, which was published on the Fox News website on May 16 and retracted a week later, suggested Rich may have played a role in last year’s leak of DNC emails. The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that the email leak was orchestrated by the Russian government to help Trump defeat his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. There are multiple investigations into whether Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia.


    Feinberg said that during a meeting held on May 26, his superiors asked him bring up the story in the press briefing.


    “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,” said Feinberg.


    According to Feinberg, his bosses handed him a termination letter when he declined. He described the situation as “disturbing.”


    “It’s really telling that the White House is pushing the same narrative as a state-run Russian propaganda outlet,” Feinberg said.


    Feinberg previously discussed his departure from Sputnik with Yahoo News in May, on the day he left his job. He said he didn’t initially have reservations about working for a government-owned site but came to feel they wanted him to falsely “spin” the news.


    “I thought as long as I just do what everyone else does … as long as I do the job fairly and accurately, I thought it would be OK,” Feinberg said at the time.

    “There are lots of state-owned news outlets; Sputnik’s not the only one.”


    The lawsuit was filed by a Washington private investigator named Rod Wheeler in a New York federal court on Tuesday. Wheeler’s suit alleges that a Dallas financier and Republican donor named Ed Butowsky worked with Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman to create a false news story linking Rich’s death to the DNC email leak.


    Rich was shot in Washington, D.C., last July, shortly after the emails were published by WikiLeaks. Police have said they believe he was killed in a botched robbery, though the murder remains unsolved. There has been no evidence linking Rich to the theft of the emails or their publication.


    Mary Rich, the mother of slain DNC staffer Seth Rich, gives a press conference in August 2016. (Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images) More

    According to Wheeler’s suit, Butowsky and Zimmerman wanted to advance “a political agenda for the Trump administration.” Trump has vehemently denied that he or anyone in his orbit worked with Russia.


    Wheeler’s suit suggested that the Fox News story pinning the leak on Rich was designed to put the allegations of Russian collusion to rest and potentially end the probes. Before the story was published, Wheeler and Butowsky met with Trump’s former press secretary Sean Spicer at the White House. The lawsuit included alleged quotes from Butowsky suggesting Trump himself had input on drafts of the Fox News story and was eager to see it published.


    The Fox News story included quotes attributed to Wheeler that said he believed Rich communicated with WikiLeaks. Wheeler insists those quotes were fabricated, though he made comments similar to those included in the story in a television interview.

    The Fox News story also included the claim that an anonymous federal investigator confirmed Rich was in contact with WikiLeaks. Rich’s family and D.C. police denounced the article almost immediately.


    Fox News retracted the story on May 23. The network released a statement saying the article was “not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting.” In the wake of the lawsuit, the network’s president of news Jay Wallace released a statement that said “the accusation that foxnews.com published Malia Zimmerman’s story to help detract from coverage of the Russia collusion issue is completely erroneous.”

    Wallace further said the network’s internal investigation into the matter found no evidence that Wheeler was misquoted. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said Trump had “no knowledge of the story and it is completely untrue that there was White House involvement in the story.”


    Conspiracies about Rich were widespread online after his death. But prior to its retraction, the Fox News story was the first mainstream news article to bolster the theories.


    Based on Feinberg’s story, his bosses at Sputnik asked him to bring up the Fox News article in the briefing three days after the story was retracted.

    While Feinberg said his editor did not directly bring up the Fox News story he felt the implication was clear since the article was the only alleged new development in the Rich case.


    “They didn’t mention the Fox story, but it was clear what they were talking about with ‘revelations,’” Feinberg said.


    According to Feinberg, he responded with “a hard no” and was then handed his walking papers.


    “It was the same meeting. It was, ‘We want you to do this.’ I said, ‘No.’ They said, ‘We have a termination letter for you,’” Feinberg recounted.


    Feinberg said the meeting included his editor, Peter Martinichev, and a man he’d never seen before named Mikhail Safronov, who identified himself as Sputnik’s D.C. bureau chief.


    “I never saw him in the office before,” Feinberg said of Safronov.


    Feinberg first discussed his departure from Sputnik with Yahoo News on May 26, the day he left the news outlet. At the time, Feinberg identified the Rich story as one of two main fake narratives he was asked to promote during his time at Sputnik. Feinberg said Sputnik also pressed him to ask questions that suggested the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad was not responsible for chemical attacks in that country. There is firm evidence linking Assad to chemical weapons but he has denied responsibility.

    Assad is a staunch ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.


    On the day he left Sputnik, Feinberg said his editors pressured him to ask about Rich at the briefing throughout his final week on the job.


    “This week they were pushing on Seth Rich. They were pushing on Seth Rich and I kept saying no,” Feinberg said in the May conversation.


    Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses employees of Rossiya Segodnya media holding (Sputnik) in Moscow in 2016. (Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP) More

    Sputnik did not respond to a request for comment on this story. The company is operated by Rossiya Segodnya, a news conglomerate that is wholly owned by the Russian government. Rossiya Segodnya was established by an executive order from Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2013. Sputnik’s website describes the company as being “entirely geared toward foreign audiences” and dedicated to providing “alternative news content.” The U.S. intelligence community labeled Sputnik and Russia’s other foreign media outlets as a key part of Moscow’s propaganda machine in its report on Kremlin interference in the 2016 presidential election. That report alleged Sputnik and other English-language Russian media companies worked in concert with online trolls and bots to advance narratives and conspiracy theories as part of an influence campaign designed to aid Trump.

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/reporter-...000407907.html
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    What is the status of the Seth Rich murder investigation? Any clues? Or is this one going to be one of those that gets broomed under the rug?
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    The tragic death and horrible politicization of Seth Rich, explained

    By Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
    Updated 1:43 PM ET, Wed August 2, 2017

    (CNN)In a lawsuit filed earlier this week, former homicide detective and Fox News analyst Rod Wheeler alleged that Fox News Channel and a Republican donor made up quotes attributed to him to drum up a retracted news story suggesting that the death of a Democratic National Committee staffer named Seth Rich had something to do with the hack of the DNC's email server during the 2016 election.

    The suit has pushed the story of Rich -- and the conspiracy theories surrounding his death -- into the national spotlight.

    But, there remains tons of confusion and misinformation about what actually happened to Rich, what Wheeler said about it and what, allegedly, Fox News, a Dallas-area businessman named Ed Butowsky and the White House had to do with it.


    In an attempt to clear up that confusion, here's a timeline of the entire episode -- from Rich's murder to the lawsuit being filed on Tuesday. This timeline is built on CNN's published reporting as well as that of the Washington Post and other mainstream news outlets. It also relies on details used in the suit brought by Wheeler against Fox News. (The full filing is here.)


    * July 10, 2016: Rich, 27, is shot to death in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, DC. He was shot several times including at least once in the back just after 4 am. Police said at the time of the murder they believed Rich was murdered after resisting an attempted robbery. Rich was involved in voter participation activities at the DNC.
    * July 12, 2016 The conspiracy theories of Rich's death begin to circulate -- primarily via Reddit. The fact that the valuables Rich was carrying were not taken in the attempted robbery are seen as the key to the conspiracy, although it could also be because the robbery was botched.
    * July 22, 2016: WikiLeaks releases more than 19,000 DNC emails obtained via a hack. A few of the emails paint DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz as dismissive of Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign, confirming what many Sanders' supporters had long believed. (Wasserman Schultz is later forced to resign.)
    * July 25, 2016: The FBI announces it is opening an investigation into the DNC hack. Word also leaks out that federal investigators had warned the DNC about the possibility of a hack back in 2015.
    * July 27, 2016: Trump holds a press conference during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in which he openly urges Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton's private email server. "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump says.
    * Fall 2016: Jack Burkman, a Republican lobbyist, gets in touch with the Rich family. He puts up more than $100,000 in reward money for anyone with knowledge of Seth's murder.
    * Jan 3. 2017: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tells Fox News' Sean Hannity that Russia didn't provide his organization with the hacked DNC emails. (By this time, the CIA, FBI and NSA are all unanimous in their belief that the WikiLeaks' hacks originated in Russia with the express purpose of helping to elected Trump.) One way the emails could have gotten from Russia to Wikileaks is through a "cut-out" or middle man.
    * Jan. 4, 2017: Trump tweets this: "Julian Assange said 'a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta' - why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!"
    * February 2017: Butowsky, the Dallas businessman, calls Wheeler and, it appears from the lawsuit, offers to pay him to look into the circumstances surrounding Rich's death. Separately, according to the lawsuit, Wheeler shows up at a February 28 meeting with Butowsky and is "surprised" that Malia Zimmerman, the Fox News reporter, is there as well. He's then told Butowsky and Zimmerman are working together.
    * April 20, 2017: Butowsky and Wheeler meet with White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Wheeler says in his complaint that they provided the press secretary with a summary of Wheeler's investigation's finding to date.
    * May 14, 2017: Butowsky tells Wheeler that President Trump has read the Zimmerman story and wants it published immediately, according to Wheeler's lawsuit. Butowsky has said his note to Wheeler was a friendly joke.
    * May 15, 2017 : Butowsky sends an email to a variety of on-air talent and off-air producers for Fox News letting them know the Zimmerman story is about to post, according to Wheeler's complaint. "One of the big conclusions we need to draw from this is that the Russians did not hack our computer systems and steal emails and there was no collusion like Trump with the Russians," he writes. It's not clear who, if anyone, read or used this email at Fox News.
    * May 16, 2017: The Zimmerman story is published on Fox News' website. In it, Wheeler is quoted as saying "my investigation up to this point shows that there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks." Wheeler is also quoted as saying that someone within the DC government or the DNC is blocking the investigation into the Rich murder from going forward. Wheeler almost immediately begins to backtrack. In the lawsuit, he insists the quotes attributed to him were fabricated.
    * May 16, 2017: Spicer is asked about the story in the White House daily press briefing. "I don't — I'm not aware of — generally, I don't get updates on DNC — former DNC staffers," he says. "I'm not aware of that."
    * May 21, 2017: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich picks up on the report in an interview with "Fox & Friends." "It turns out, it wasn't the Russians," says Gingrich. "It was this young guy who, I suspect, was disgusted by the corruption of the Democratic National Committee. He's been killed, and apparently nothing serious has been done to investigate his murder." Gingrich is one of a number of conservative commentators who spread the story; Hannity and Breitbart News also play the story up as confirmation that the Russian meddling narrative was a ruse and that the hacking was an inside job.
    * May 23, 2017: Fox News retracts the Zimmerman story. "The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting," reads a statement on the Fox website. "Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed." Fox News says it's still investigating internally and has no evidence that Wheeler was misquoted
    * May 23, 2017: The parents of Rich write a piece in the Washington Post headlined: "We're Seth Rich's parents. Stop politicizing our son's murder." In it, they write:
    "Law-enforcement officials told us that Seth's murder looked like a botched robbery attempt in which the assailants — after shooting our son — panicked, immediately ran and abandoned Seth's personal belongings. We have seen no evidence, by any person at any time, that Seth's murder had any connection to his job at the Democratic National Committee or his life in politics. Anyone who claims to have such evidence is either concealing it from us or lying."

    They also note that their son's personal email and computer were searched by police and "revealed no evidence of any communications with anyone at WikiLeaks or anyone associated with WikiLeaks."
    May 23, 2017: Hannity says he will stop talking about the Rich murder after an appeal from Seth's brother. "Please do not interpret what I'm saying tonight to mean anything," Hannity adds. "Don't read into this. I promise you I am not going to stop doing my job. To the extent of my ability, I am not going to stop finding the truth. ... At the proper time we should continue and talk a lot more."
    August 1, 2017: NPR's David Folkenflik is first to report about the existence of Wheeler's lawsuit. He talks to Spicer who admits that he met with Butowksy and Wheeler on April 20. "It had nothing to do with advancing the president's domestic agenda — and there was no agenda," Spicer tells Folkenflik. "They were just informing me of the [Fox] story."
    August 1, 2017: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabeee Sanders is asked about the Wheeler lawsuit. "The President had no knowledge of the story, and it's completely untrue that he or the White House had involvement in the story," she said. "Beyond that, this is ongoing litigation, and I'd refer you to the actual parties involved, which aren't the White House."

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/reporter-...000407907.html



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  6. #6
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    LOL!! "The Russians made me do it." Soooo lame.
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    Read Seth was with wasserman's IT guy earlier that night
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    Swept under the rug -------
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