Jerome Corsi retracts and apologizes for story promoting Seth Rich conspiracy theory
Conservative author Jerome Corsi on Monday apologized for writing an article in which he falsely alleged that Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer who was killed in 2016, and his brother Aaron had leaked thousands of emails to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks.
Corsi said in a statement that the allegations he made in his article, which was posted on the Infowars website last March, “were not based upon any independent factual knowledge” about the Rich brothers.
He pointed to a now-retracted Washington Times column by a retired Navy admiral on which the article was based.
“It was not Dr. Corsi’s intent to rely upon inaccurate information, or to cause any suffering to Mr. Rich’s family. To that end, Dr. Corsi retracts the article and apologizes to the Rich family,” the statement reads.
The apology came after Aaron Rich’s legal team requested a retraction of the conservative author’s article. It represents a victory for the Rich family, which has been battling the conspiracy theory and seeking to hold accountable those who have promoted it.
Last year, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by Rich’s parents, Joel and Mary Rich, against Fox News over a May 2017 story that falsely claimed investigators had evidence that Seth Rich had leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks. There is no evidence that Rich was the source of the leak; the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia was responsible for the DNC hack and email dump.
The Riches are appealing the decision.
Aaron Rich had also filed a lawsuit against The Washington Times over its publication of the column by retired Adm. James Lyons. The newspaper’s apology and retraction of the article came as part of a settlement last year.
Attorney Michael Gottlieb, who represents Aaron Rich, pledged on Monday to “continue our fight on Aaron’s behalf until justice is served on each of the dwindling proponents of this discredited fantasy.”
“Today is a significant step towards accountability for the unconscionable conspiracy theory targeting our client, Aaron Rich,” Gottlieb said in a statement. “Today, Infowars and Dr. Jerome Corsi joined the Washington Times in admitting that the conspiracy theory about Aaron’s purported involvement in the unlawful transfer of DNC documents to Wikileaks is, and always has been, utterly baseless.”
District of Columbia police believe the unsolved murder of 27-year-old Seth Rich was the result of a botched robbery.
Yet far-right websites and conservative news outlets promoted the theory that Rich was killed as punishment for leaking the DNC emails during the 2016 campaign. Some supporters of President Trump embraced the theory as it provided a counter-argument to allegations that Trump’s campaign had colluded with Russia in an effort to thwart Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the White House.