That new report alleging collusion between WikiLeaks and Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer who was murdered near his home in Washington, D.C., last year, isn't what you think it is.
At least, that's what Rich's family and law enforcement officials said Tuesday. Also, that's basically what the source of the report's biggest claim said after he recanted most of his story.
In short, the report is a hot hunk of hokum.
"We are a family who is committed to facts, not fake evidence that surfaces every few months to fill the void and distract law enforcement and the general public from finding Seth's murderers," the Rich family said through spokesman Brad Bauman.
Bauman, whose body of work includes consultation services to Democratic candidates, said separately in a comment to Business Insider: "It's sad but unsurprising that a group of media outlets who have repeatedly lied to the American people would try and manipulate the legacy of a murder victim in order to forward their own political agenda."
"I think there is a special place in hell for people like that," he added.
The young DNC staffer was murdered on July 10. His death has not yet been solved, and law enforcement officials say they have no promising leads.
This iteration of the Seth Rich news cycle begins with Rod Wheeler, an ex-D.C. homicide detective who works now as a private investigator and occasional Fox News contributor.
Wheeler told Washington, D.C., Fox News affiliate Fox 5 that he had information showing the slain DNC data analyst was in contact with WikiLeaks prior to his murder.
WikiLeaks, of course, published thousands of stolen emails in 2016 that had been pilfered from accounts belonging to Democratic National Committee staffers and failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.
Asked whether his sources have said Rich was tied directly to WikiLeaks, Wheeler told Fox 5, "Absolutely. Yeah. That's confirmed."
Wheeler also said he believed local authorities were conducting a cover-up.
Law enforcement officials, who maintain Rich was the victim of a botched robbery, denied this charge (again).
FoxNews.com reported separately Tuesday that the murdered staffer was in contact with WikiLeaks via the late journalist Gavin MacFadyen. Rich reportedly handed over 44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments belonging to top DNC staffers to MacFadyen before May 21, FoxNews.com reported, citing a nameless federal official.
The FBI conducted a forensic report on Rich's laptop within 96 hours of his death, the anonymous official reported said.
This is where everything falls apart for the Fox reporters.
Wheeler recanted most of his story Tuesday evening. He told CNN he had no proof that Rich was ever in contact with WikiLeaks.
Wheeler instead said he only learned about the possible existence of such evidence through the reporter he spoke to for the FoxNews.com story. He explained that the comments he made to WTTG-TV were intended to simply preview Fox News' Tuesday story.
Asked about a quote attributed to him in the Fox News story in which he said his "investigation up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and Wikileaks," Wheeler said he was referring to information that had already been reported in the media.
"I only got that [information] from the reporter at Fox News," Wheeler told CNN.
The family spokesman stressed Wheeler had never actually seen Rich's laptop.
NBC News also reported Tuesday that separate FBI sources contradict everything in the Fox 5 and FoxNews.com stories.
"[A] current FBI official and a former one completely discount the Fox News claim that an FBI analysis of a computer belonging to Rich contained thousands of e-mails to and from WikiLeaks," the report read. "Local police in Washington, D.C., never even gave the FBI Rich's laptop to analyze after his murder."
Simply put, in regards to Rich's laptop, "It never contained any e-mails related to WikiLeaks, and the FBI never had it," a former law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the case said.
Lastly, the Rich family itself has been loudest and most vocal in disputing what they say are "unsubstantiated" garbage reports.
"We see no facts, we have seen no evidence, we have been approached with no emails and only learned about this when contacted by the press," the statement added. "Even if tomorrow an email was found, it is not a high enough bar of evidence to prove any interactions as emails can be altered, and we've seen that those interested in pushing conspiracies will stop at nothing to do so."
The family's statement added:
The services of the private investigator who spoke to press was offered to the Rich family and paid for by a third party, and contractually was barred from speaking to press or anyone outside of law enforcement or the family unless explicitly authorized by the family.
The "third party" mentioned in the statement is financial adviser and Fox News contributor Ed Butowsky, Bauman told NBC News Tuesday.
However, Butowsky has denied any part in Wheeler's investigation of Rich's death.
"I'm not involved with any of what you said," he told NBC.
Butowsky declined to respond when he was asked if he was in contact with the Rich family.
"This can't possibly go well," he said. "I didn't pay anybody. I didn't hire anybody."
He then referred all questions to Wheeler.
Bauman tells a different story.
Not only did Butowsky connect the Rich family to Wheeler, but he also offered to pay the private investigator's fees, according to Bauman.
Though the family's initial response to the Fox 5 report declined to mention Butowsky by name, Bauman told NBC News he felt compelled to reveal the Dallas-based financial adviser's role as the "third party" after he denied involvement in the story.
"He's the one who paid for it," Bauman said.
To sum things up: The supposed bombshell reports this week are trash.
They have done nothing to answer some of the conspiracies surrounding Rich's unsolved murder. They have, however, done a great job of infuriating the victim's still-grieving family.
Great work all around, fellas.
This story, which warned from the outset that the two Fox reports didn't add up, has been updated to include Wheeler's admission to CNN.