Fox News on Monday called for the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a contributor involved in the publishing of a retracted story about slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.
In a memorandum, Fox News and its parent company 21st Century Fox argued that private investigator Rod Wheeler’s case was “founded on a falsehood,” arguing that he was “was neither misquoted nor defamed,” as he claimed.
In August, Wheeler sued the network, claiming that a Fox News reporter fabricated quotes from him in a thinly-sourced conspiracy theory about Rich’s death, which was pushed by a well-connected supporter of President Donald Trump to deflect from growing concerns about Trump’s potential ties to Russia.
The former Metropolitan Police Department officer and Fox News contributor said his credibility was damaged by serving as a key figure in a series of debunked stories claiming that Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks before his death.
Fox News reported the story online and on television, and retracted it in June.
But in its legal response on Monday, Fox News argued that Wheeler made similar statements during television appearances following the article’s release.
“He made substantially the same statements on the air in several on-camera interviews, before and after the Fox News report, and even stated publicly that the article he now challenges as false ‘was essentially correct and worthy of further investigation,'” the memorandum said.
The network also pushed back against Wheeler’s claim that he was passed over for advancement opportunities because he is black, saying Wheeler “fails to plead the facts necessary to support such a charge, because there are no such facts.”
The memorandum is the latest salvo in a number of highly-scrutinized legal battles between the network and some of its former guests.
Monday’s memorandum came just a day after a former frequent guest on Fox News, Scottie Nell Hughes, claimed she was raped by Fox Business Network host Charles Payne, and blacklisted by the network. Payne, who recently returned to his show after he was suspended for months while the network investigated sexual harassment claims against him, denied the allegations.
Read the memorandum: