Tucker Carlson on Monday revived a false conspiracy theory about Seth Rich, the slain Democratic National Committee staffer whose killing became a prop that Fox News used to draw attention away from Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
Carlson, who did not refer to Rich by name, was reacting to a Friday court filing by Special Counsel John Durham, who was tasked with investigating the origins of the intelligence community’s investigation into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Durham accused a lawyer for the Democrats of sharing internet data with the CIA that allegedly showed Russian-made phones being used near the White House, thus reflecting poorly on Trump. A host of right-wing media figures and politicians have falsely claimed that the filing shows that Trump was spied on and the subject of a smear campaign by Hillary Clinton.
Carlson jumped on that bandwagon on his show Monday night. The idea that Trump was the victim of a Hillary Clinton plot “has been verified,” he said. “That claim is true. It actually happened.”
The Fox News host then played a 2016 debate clip of Clinton mentioning Russia’s cyber attacks on American systems.
“That’s probably true, in point of fact. But she was speaking about a specific quote ‘cyber attack.’ She was talking about the Russians hacking the servers at the DNC,” Carlson said. “Here’s the interesting thing: It was not true. It has never been true.”
The U.S. intelligence community and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation both found that Russians were, in fact, responsible for the hacking.
But rather than Russia, Carlson claimed, “the DNC emails were very clearly stolen from within the building, most likely by a Bernie Sanders supporter who wanted to show the world how Bernie Sanders was being shafted by the very same corrupt forces in Washington that later shafted Donald Trump.”
By implying that Rich is this unnamed supporter of Bernie Sanders, Carlson is sticking his toe back into waters that ultimately have gotten Fox News in a lot of trouble. A 2018 article that ended up being retracted, as well as comments from hosts like Sean Hannity, linked Rich’s unsolved murder in 2016 to the hacking of DNC emails as revealed by Wikileaks. In November 2020, Fox News settled a lawsuit with Rich’s parents, who had sued the network over emotional distress.
A representative for Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.