When Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was found dead in his apartment, the police ruled it a homicide. Beyond that, there was nothing much to go on. Given the high-profile nature of the murder, as well as the compelling lack of actual evidence, speculation led to conspiracy, led to wild accusations on the TV, radio, and Internet news.
Rich, according to police, was killed in what is suspected to be a “botched robbery,” but that didn’t stop some news outlets from engaging in wild speculation about Rich being killed as retaliation for Wikileaks media releases.
As the story took on a life of its own, occasionally careening into the absurd, the DNC hired communications consultant Brad Bauman to help drive and direct the narrative. Soon, Bauman, too, became part of the story. When he stepped in front of microphones to speak for Rich’s family, some partisan media sources pounced, saying, “see, he’s part of the cover up!” Bauman insisted he took the job as a favor to a friend who knew the Rich family. Others claimed he was a hired gun, a “fixer” to clean up a PR crisis.
Now, Bauman is suing America First Media, as well as other prominent figures involved in the story, for defamation, making false claims about him. The suit seeks both monetary payment and court-ordered “injunctive relief,” and demands that: “…false and defamatory materials to be removed from any websites over which defendants have control.”
Bauman’s suit objects to a series of reports that he says are erroneous, as well as the way he was characterized and described by America First and certain media personalities employed by that outlet. One site in particular described Bauman as a “professional DNC hitman” who was sent in to initiate a cover up of a terrible secret.
Bauman’s suit claims these and other similar statements, “…have negatively affected (Brad’s) professional reputation and ability to attract new clients as, among other things, an on-the-records spokesperson… and further limited the scope of responsibilities and on-the-record duties he has been able to continue or undertake for existing clients, as well as caused him severe emotional distress.”
Some of the people named in the suit are not talking, but at least one has come out and said he was simply “repeating what he had been told” and that Bauman was just a “low life PR guy.”
Bauman, for his part, believes doing a favor for a friend should not have put him in the crosshairs of conspiracy theorists, and that they should pay for their actions.