Suit: Former Hawaii journalist at center of firestorm over retracted slain DNC staffer story

Suit: Former Hawaii journalist at center of firestorm over retracted slain DNC staffer story
Updated: Aug. 1, 2017 at 4:12 PM HST
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(Image: Malia Zimmerman/Twitter)
(Image: Malia Zimmerman/Twitter)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A former Hawaii journalist is at the center of a growing firestorm over a Fox News story about Democratic leaks and an unsolved killing.

A new lawsuit claims the story wasn't only concocted, but quarterbacked by the Trump administration.

The suit, filed in Manhattan, names former Hawaii journalist Malia Zimmerman as a defendant, in addition to Fox News.

Zimmerman wrote the story, which was then trumpeted in Fox News segments on air.

The lawsuit was filed by an investigator who had been looking into the killing of Seth Rich, a former Democratic National Committee staff member killed in 2016 in what police say was a botched robbery. The investigator alleges that Fox quoted him as saying things he never said and was willing to show President Donald Trump its story before it was posted online.

Zimmerman is no stranger to Hawaii reporting or politics.

She grew up in Kailua and graduated from Maryknoll School and later Chaminade University before going on to launch one of the state's first conservative news websites -- the Hawaii Reporter.

She went on to become an investigative reporter on Fox News.

In May, while accusations that Russia interfered in the presidential election were hurting Trump, Zimmerman was part of the Fox News story about Rich and DNC emails. The story suggested that Democrats, not Russia, engineered the release of embarrassing Clinton campaign emails.

In the lawsuit, Zimmerman's former colleague at Fox News, Rod Wheeler, claims Zimmerman lied about his work on the Rich case.

The lawsuit further claims that Zimmerman knew the quotes in her story were fake, but was told by her Fox News bosses to leave them in.

News of the lawsuit came as a surprise to those familiar with her work.

Hawaii News Now political analyst Colin Moore said the allegations are serious — and seem "very out of character."

"A reporter making up quotes is a very serious allegation and I don't think it matches the sort of reporter she was in Hawaii," Moore said. "I think the Trump administration has taken their management of the media and their relationship with the conservative media farther than a lot of administrations."

Fox retracted Zimmerman's article a week after it was posted, saying it did not meet their reporting standards.

On Tuesday, the network said Zimmerman is not commenting on the lawsuit. Zimmerman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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