A progressive public relations crisis consultant who helped push back against conspiracy theories about the murder of Democratic staffer Seth Rich says that fake news has made the crime harder to solve.
Brad Bauman, a former executive director of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told Deep State Nation in a recent interview that “I don’t get much solace” in answering the constant barrage of questions born in the comment sections of conspiracy sites.
He described a “weird environment” in which journalists must contact the bereaved family’s volunteer representative to get comment on bizarre distortions and lunatic fabrications that are “harmful and hurtful and just existentially rip your heart out.” Bauman said that absorbing so much poison has made it “difficult to get out of bed in the morning.”
Bauman has made many media appearances to criticize conspiracy mongers, including Sean Hannity of Fox News. This stalwart defense of the truth has made him a natural lightning rod for Infowars fans and rabid Trump supporters with frog avatars.
After speaking at a panel on fighting fake news at the Netroots Nation conference in Atlanta on August 12th, Bauman told me that he was determined to “defend Seth Rich’s legacy from those who would use it for political purposes.”
“We haven’t been able to find the murderer, and in fact, I would suspect that a lot of the fake news that has surrounded Seth Rich’s murder has actually contributed to this having gone on for so long,” he said.
Things first got bad after Julian Assange hinted in August of 2016 that Rich, and not Russian hackers, had been the source of stolen DNC emails. Bauman calls that claim “patently false.”
Bauman says that despite his best efforts, the family has been “irreparably and emotionally harmed” by fake news. “They haven’t been able to strike a new normal” or properly grieve their lost loved one.
“They’ve been terrorized by phone calls coming in every single day, wondering if maybe this is going to be the time that the cops are going to call and say they found someone, but in reality they just get another phone call from another reporter asking them to disprove something” that is “fake and manipulated and lacking in fact,” Bauman says.
Fact-checking is not enough. Indeed, Bauman’s few successes in killing zombie lies about Seth Rich have come from aiming at hearts instead of heads. “I think that we were able to get people with a conscience to understand” that politicizing a young man’s murder was simply immoral, he said.
“That’s really the one thing that we were able to accomplish; there are a litany of things that we haven’t been able to accomplish because of fake news.”
Here is our interview with Brad Bauman. Watch:
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