By Diana Crandall / August 1, 2017 9:47 am

A lawsuit alleges that the Fox News and a wealthy supporter of President Trump worked in tandem, and under the supervision of the White House, to create a fake news story about the unsolved murder of Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee aide, NPR reports.

The suit, filed by longtime Fox News commentator Rod Wheeler, said that Fox News and Ed Butowsky, a Trump supporter, created a narrative that it was Seth Rich who gave WikiLeaks damaging DNC emails. The purpose of this was to avert public attention away from mounting concern about the administration’s alleged ties to the Russian government, the suit claims.

“Rod Wheeler unfortunately was used as a pawn by Ed Butowsky, Fox News and the Trump administration to try and steer away the attention that was being given about the Russian hacking of the DNC e-mails,” said Douglas Wigdor, Wheeler’s lawyer.

The lawsuit also cites a voicemail and text message from Butowsky bragging that President Trump himself reviewed drafts of the story before it went to air and was published online. Shortly after the story ran, it was denounced by the Rich family, D.C. police, Democratic Party officials and some journalists within the network.

Fox News later retracted the story, issuing a statement that the reporting process failed to live up to the network’s standards, without elaborating further.