The 27-year-old Rich was an employee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and his murder spawned several right-wing conspiracy theories, including the false claim that Rich had been involved with the leaked DNC emails in 2016, contradicted by the law enforcement branches that investigated the murder. It was also contradicted by the July 2018 indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence agents for hacking the e-mail accounts and networks of Democratic Party officials and by the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion the leaked DNC emails were part of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. WikiLeaks has said that the origins of the leaks did not originate with Russia. Fact-checking websites like PolitiFact.com, Snopes.com, and FactCheck.org stated that these theories were false and unfounded. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post wrote that the promotion of these conspiracy theories was an example of fake news.
Rich's parents condemned the conspiracy theorists and said that these individuals were exploiting their son's death for political gain, and their spokesperson called the conspiracy theorists "disgusting sociopaths". They requested a retraction and apology from Fox News after the network promoted the conspiracy theory, and sent a cease and desist letter to the investigator Fox News used. The investigator stated that he had no evidence to back up the claims which Fox News attributed to him. Fox News issued a retraction, but did not apologize or publicly explain what went wrong. In return, the Rich family sued Fox News in March 2018 for having engaged in "extreme and outrageous conduct" by fabricating the story defaming their son and thereby intentionally inflicting emotional distress on them. The judge dismissed the suit in August 2018, ruling that - while "he symphathized with Mr. Rich’s parents" - they had not been personally defamed by the story and that the network’s conduct did not meet the high legal standard required for their claim.