Our President might have been actively working with Fox News to push a disgusting conspiracy theory to distract from the Russian hacking story, so that’s super.

Hey, guys, remember the Seth Rich murder conspiracy story that Fox News tried to peddle a few months ago, a story that Sean Hannity was loathe to let go of even as his network masters ordered him to drop it as it was baseless, hateful and hurting a family? You know the one: that Seth Rich, a 27-year-old employee of the Democratic National Committee, was the real leaker of DNC emails to Wikileaks and not the Russians, who definitely did not hack into the DNC and share damaging information on Clinton to help Trump get elected. And then when Seth Rich was robbed and murdered late one night in Washington D.C. that it was not a random crime but a hit put out by the Democrats, probably Hillary herself, because you know how she just loves to kill people. That conspiracy? 

Yeah, well, the White House and Donald Trump might have been pushing Fox News to report it, according to a new lawsuit. 

So the story was that Rod Wheeler, a Fox News contributor, was hired by Seth Rich’s family to investigate his murder. Except that they didn’t hire him — a wealthy Republican donor, a Dallas guy named Ed Butowsky, hired him, saying it was “on behalf of Rich’s family.” Wheeler then went on Fox News and said that there was evidence that Rich was working with Wikileaks, when, in fact, there was none.

The Rich family begged Fox News to quit reporting this hateful, irresponsible story, and they complied, but Sean Hannity loved it soooooooo much that he continues to hint at it every once in awhile because he’s a fucking monster with no respect for a grieving family. Not that that’s a surprise or out of character.

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Now Wheeler is suing Fox News for defamation and racial discrimination, saying that he was misquoted about the story in a FoxNews.com article, and that he “was used as a pawn by Ed Butowsky, Fox News and the Trump administration to try and steer away the attention that was being given about the Russian hacking of the DNC emails.”

According to the suit, Wheeler claims he and Butowsky met Sean Spicer at the White House to discuss the story a month before it broke. 36 hours before the story went live on Fox News, Butowsky left Wheeler a voicemail saying, “We have the full, uh, attention of the White House on this. And tomorrow, let’s close this deal, whatever we’ve got to do.” He then texted Wheeler the message, “Not to add any more pressure but the president just read the article. He wants the article out immediately. It’s now all up to you.”

Butowsky then coordinated the entire story with Fox News according to the lawsuit:

As the night before the story is aired progresses, Butowsky is awake, online and anticipating what is to unfold in a few short hours.

Butowsky sends an email to Fox News producers and hosts coaching them on how to frame the Rich story, according to the lawsuit. Recipients included Fox & Friends hosts, Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade.

“I’m actually the one who’s been putting this together but as you know, I keep my name out of things because I have no credibility,” Butowsky writes, as reflected in the Wheeler suit. “One of the big conclusions we need to draw from this is that the Russians did not hack our computer systems and ste[a]l emails and there was no collusion” between “Trump and the Russians.”

The night before the story ran and the day of the story itself, Butowsky coaches Wheeler on what to say on the air: “[T]he narrative in the interviews you might use is that you and [Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman’s] work prove that the Russians didn’t hack into the DNC and steal the emails and impact our elections.” In another text, he writes: “If you can, try to highlight this puts the Russian hacking story to rest.”

Spicer admits that he did meet with the pair to discuss the story, but doesn’t know if Trump knew about it. This contradicts what Spicer says in a White House Press Briefing after the Seth Rich story was reported:

As for Butowsky saying that Trump is anxious to get that story out, he now is claiming that he never shared it with Trump or any of his aides, and that he was just “joking with a friend.”

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Fox News is denying all of Wheeler’s claims, obviously. But here’s the kicker: they also say in their formal statement that “the retraction of this story is still being investigated internally.” No one has been formally disciplined for the fake story. It’s been over two months.

Here’s the part where I remind you that after CNN published a story that hadn’t gone through the proper editing vetting process, the network fired three journalists in a matter of days. Oh, and do you remember who that CNN story was about?

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Anyway, what I’m saying is that Trump is the Conspiracy Theorist in Chief and that the only people who win in any of this are Jordan Klepper and John Oliver who have impeccable timing:

In Other TV News

HBO was hit by a massive hack attack, and the script for the fourth episode of Game of Thrones is floating around out there, as well as episodes of Ballers and Room 104. Great, I am looking forward to dodging Game of Thrones spoilers for the next week.

NBC has moved up the premiere dates for The Good Place and The Blacklist, hoping to give The Good Place a little post-America’s Got Talent boost.

Interesting: 13 Reasons Why did prompt a measurable increase in internet searches for “suicide.” While there has not been proven any connections to an increase of attempts, an editorial in  JAMA Internal Medicine suggested the producers of the series could have “done more to emphasize suicide prevention, including listing resources for where to find help before and after each episode.”

Uh-oh, 50 Cent is SO MAD at Starz, you guys. Basically, Sunday’s episode of Power was originally written as a two-parter, but Starz didn’t give an extra episode order, and the episode had to be distilled down to one hour. Fifty was plenty unhappy.

In other Power news, J.R. Ramirez broke his hand and finger in his (SPOILER!) last scene. He’ll be healing up on the set of Jessica Jones (see below in casting).

Don’t be looking for Kathy Bates in the next season of American Horror Story. Sad face here.

In Bachelor in Paradise news, Vinny says that the new rules in which they have to give producers notice of their consent to hook up is “awkward.” O RLY, Y?

Elsewhere, Demario might be on Dancing with the Stars. Hopefully, he’ll be joining Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus and The Mooch.

Speaking of The Mooch, pour one out for poor Mario Cantone, who had one brief moment in the sun.

Netflix is in debt to the tune of $20 billion. How long is this sustainable, guys?

Renewals

In Development

Casting News

WATCH THIS

Manhunt: Unabomber: Paul Bettany stars as the mad genius in this new series that also somehow stars Jane Lynch? Series premiere. 8 p.m., Discovery

Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf: I somehow missed this classic when it debuted in 2015. 6 p.m., Syfy

Late Night: Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Jeremy Renner, Bridget Everett, French Montana featuring Swae Lee Late Night with Seth Meyers: Idris Elba, Alexis Bledel, Michael Voltaggio The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Sen. Al Franken, Adam Conover, Randy Newman The Late Late Show with James Corden: Gordon Ramsay, Brendan Gleeson, Maggie Rogers Jimmy Kimmel Live: Kate Beckinsale, Alexis Ohanian, Justin Moore The Daily Show: Al Gore Watch What Happens Live: James Van Der Beek, Kate Upton

TUES. 7:00 7:30 8:00 8:30 9:00 9:30
ABC The Middle
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Fresh Off the Boat
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black-ish
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Somewhere Between
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CBS NCIS
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Bull
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NCIS: New Orleans
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CW The Flash
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DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
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Local
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The Mick
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NBC America’s Got Talent
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World of Dance
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