Some conservative commentators still peddle conspiracy theory about Seth Rich

WASHINGTON -- The Fox News Channel retracted a story Tuesday that said Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer, may have leaked sensitive emails before he was murdered last year. There's no evidence of that, but several conservative commentators are still peddling the sensational conspiracy theory.

Most of official Washington believes that Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails.

"I know for sure it is the Russians," Rep. Nancy Pelosi said.

But some supporters of President Trump have been pushing an alternate theory: that Rich stole the emails and gave them to WikiLeaks -- and for doing so became the victim of an unsolved murder.

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Seth Rich

CBS News

Fox host Sean Hannity, a fervent Trump supporter, became a driving force behind the story.

In a Washington Post op-ed this week, Rich's parents called the story "baseless" and pleaded with people to stop "using our beloved Seth's memory and legacy for their own political goals."

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Seth Rich's family penned an op-ed Tuesday in The Washington Post.

CBS News

Rich's brother sent a letter to Hannity asking for "decency and kindness."

On Tuesday, the story was taken down from the Fox News website

At first Hannity refused to retract anything. But Tuesday night, he backed down -- sort of.

"Out of respect for the family's wishes, for now, I am not discussing this matter at this time," Hannity was heard saying on his Fox News show on Tuesday. "I am not going to stop trying to find the truth."

Kelly McBride, an expert on media ethics with the Poynter Institute, says that last part sends a message to his fans.

"You'll hear that as, 'Oh there's truth to the conspiracy story and Hannity can't report it,'" McBride told CBS News.

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Kelly McBride

CBS News

D.C. police say the assertions made about Seth Rich by Fox News are "unfounded." The police believe Rich was likely shot to death on a street near his home during an attempted robbery.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.