Conspiracy Theory

One of the Right’s Most Popular Conspiracy Theories Was Planted by Russia

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The conspiracy theory that former Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich was murdered by the Clintons for leaking the DNC's emails was eventually carried on the national airwaves of Fox News, but it didn't start there.

According to the federal prosecutor who handled the Rich case, the conspiracy theory did not actually originate in the fever swamps of InfoWars or WikiLeaks; it started in the halls of Russian intelligence.

From Yahoo News:

Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the SVR, first circulated a phony “bulletin” — disguised to read as a real intelligence report —about the alleged murder of the former DNC staffer on July 13, 2016, according to the U.S. federal prosecutor who was in charge of the Rich case. That was just three days after Rich, 27, was killed in what police believed was a botched robbery while walking home to his group house in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C., about 30 blocks north of the Capitol. [...]

The Russian effort to exploit Rich’s tragic death didn’t stop with the fake SVR bulletin. Over the course of the next two and a half years, the Russian government-owned media organizations RT and Sputnik repeatedly played up stories that baselessly alleged that Rich, a relatively junior-level staffer, was the source of Democratic Party emails that had been leaked to WikiLeaks. It was an idea first floated by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who on Aug. 9, 2016, announced a $20,000 reward for information about Rich’s murder, saying — somewhat cryptically — that “our sources take risks.”

Assange's source, as it turns out, was Russia's foreign intelligence service.

It's obviously possible and most likely that Rich was murdered during a robbery gone wrong, but this string of events -- from the police never finding his killers to Russia's foreign intelligence service making a story of it just three days later -- certainly makes me wonder if that's what really happened. But we'll probably never know.

I'd like to think that this would spur at least a fleeting moment of reflection among those who spread the conspiracy theory, but I don't expect it. These aren't the kind of people who have felt or experienced shame in the last decade.

  • muselet

    When I saw a story on this last night, my first reaction was—hand on heart—”Huh. Okay, that makes sense.”

    Russian intelligence wanted someone other than Hillary Clinton to be elected president, a Clinton staffer was killed, so of course a tall tale of corruption and murder was made up out of whole cloth, in full knowledge that Righty media would run with the phony story.

    Someone more cynical than I might even suggest that Russian intelligence killed Seth Rich, since tthree days isn’t much time to concoct such an elaborate story; however, I prefer not to traffic in conspiracy theories.


  • Draxiar

    “I’d like to think that this would spur at least a fleeting moment of reflection among those who spread the conspiracy theory, but I don’t expect it.”

    Neither do I. You can be damn sure that if New York Times or Washington Post dots a “t” or crosses an “I” that the right would DEMAND an apology. Personally I think the Democrats should be all over this like mud on a pig and accuse Hannity of being a low grade hack parroting Russian propaganda.