Tuesday, March 5, 2019

In Rare Move, Infowars Issues Retraction And Apology For Seth Rich Reporting

It isn’t often that a conspiracy theory is so completely debunked as the Seth Rich conspiracy has been. In fact, in a rare move for the conspiracy website, Infowars has published a retraction of a story about the alleged conspiracy to murder Rich and apologized to his family.

The Infowars retraction specifically references an article by Corsi published on March 5, 2018, titled, “Anti-Trump Left Tries to Revive Dying ‘Russia’ Narrative by Blaming Roger Stone.”  The retraction reads in part, “Dr. Corsi acknowledges that his allegations were not based upon any independent factual knowledge regarding Seth or Aaron Rich. Instead, Dr. Corsi relied primarily on, and quoted from, a column by Adm. James Lyons (Ret.) that was published in the Washington Times on March 2, 2018, but was retracted on September 30, 2018.”

“It was not Dr. Corsi’s intent to rely upon inaccurate information, or to cause any suffering to Mr. Rich’s family,” the retraction continues. “To that end, Dr. Corsi retracts the article and apologizes to the Rich family.”

The Washington Times retracted their version of the article on Sept. 30, 2018, with a statement that says Adm. Lyons “included statements about Aaron Rich, the brother of former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, that we now believe to be false.” The Times retraction specifically identifies two statements in the article as being completely false. One was Lyon’s statement that “it is well known in the intelligence circles that Seth Rich and his brother Aaron and his brother, Aaron Rich, downloaded the DNC emails and was paid by Wikileaks for that information.” The second false statement was the claim that Aaron Rich had not been interviewed or cooperated with authorities.

Back in November 2018, The Resurgent noted that filings from the Mueller investigation showed that emails showed Corsi was aware that the foreign hackers stole the DNC emails as early as August 2016 even though he continued to push the idea that Seth Rich was the culprit and was murdered in retaliation for two more years.

I’ve been involved in debunking several Infowars claims in the past and apologies and retractions for the site’s wacky conspiracy articles are rare. The site was one of the right-wing media outlets that promoted the idea that President Obama was about to declare martial law in the Southwestern United States back in 2015 The site and its owner, Alex Jones, were heavily involved in promoting the claim that the Sandy Hook school shooting was staged and famously claimed that chemicals in the water were turning frogs gay.

The only other apology or retraction that Jones seems to have ever issued involved the 2016 pizzagate conspiracy theory. The claim was that Democratic politicians including Hillary Clinton and John Podesta were running a child sex trafficking ring out of a Washington, DC pizzeria called Comet Ping Pong.

After a true believer fired several shots into the restaurant in December 2016, Jones issued an apology, writing, “I want our viewers and listeners to know that we regret any negative impact our commentaries may have had on [Comet Ping Pong owner James] Alefantis, Comet Ping Pong, or its employees. We apologize to the extent our commentaries could be construed as negative statements about Mr. Alefantis or Comet Ping Pong, and we hope that anyone else involved in commenting on Pizzagate will do the same thing.”

There are still people who believe the pizzagate claims, however. Comet Ping Pong still receives prank calls and, in January 2019, someone broke into the restaurant and started a fire. It isn’t known whether the fire is related to the conspiracy theory, but it is definitely possible since there are still people online who believe against all evidence that prominent Democrats are selling children into sex slavery.

It’s likely that the retraction from Corsi and Infowars will leave many of the tinfoil hat crowd unconvinced. It’s easy to go a step further and believe that Corsi and Infowars were pressured into the retraction to cover up the truth. Conspiracy believers will rationalize away any contradictory information. Everything, they believe, is being manipulated by some dark force such as the Deep State, the Illuminati, the Bilderbergers, or the villain du jour.

Now, if only Sean Hannity, another main pusher of the fake news story about Rich, would issue his own apology to the family. Hannity continued to push the conspiracy theory long after Fox News retracted the story in May 2017.

Still, any retraction and apology from Jones and Corsi is a victory. The Seth Rich conspiracy theory is a good reminder of how the term “fake news” came to be. The apology will hopefully allow the Rich family to have a measure of peace from conspiracy activists. 

Originally published on The Resurgent

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