Fox News on Tuesday retracted a story linking the murder of a Democratic National Committee staff member with the email hacks that aided President Trump’s campaign, effectively quashing a conspiracy theory that had taken hold across the right-wing news media.
It was a rare acknowledgment of error by the network. But it also underscored a schism between the network’s news-gathering operation and one of its biggest stars: the conservative commentator Sean Hannity, who has unapologetically promoted the theory and remained defiant on Tuesday.
The story of the murdered aide, Seth Conrad Rich, who was 27 when he was shot in the back near his Washington home in July, has been seized on by Mr. Hannity and other right-wing pundits as an alternative narrative to the cascade of damaging revelations about the Trump administration’s ties to Russian officials who meddled in the presidential election.
On Fox News on Tuesday night, Mr. Hannity said that he had been in touch with Mr. Rich’s brother and that, “out of respect for the family’s wishes — for now — I am not discussing this matter at this time.”
But, he promised his viewers, “I am not going to stop doing my job.”
He added, “At the proper time, we shall continue, and talk a lot more.”
Citing unnamed sources, Fox News’s website published an article last week suggesting that Mr. Rich’s death was in retaliation for his sharing D.N.C. emails with WikiLeaks — a theory that, if true, would undercut the notion of Russian political interference and, in turn, offer cover for Mr. Trump.
No evidence to support that theory has emerged, and the Washington Metropolitan Police Department is still investigating the death of Mr. Rich.