After being sent the article, Wheeler did something unusual: He contacted another reporter, from a different outlet, to tip her off to Zimmerman's story.
Within a few hours, that reporter, Marina Marraco of Washington, D.C. Fox affiliate WTTG, would scoop Zimmerman on the exclusive.
Wheeler added: "I told her, 'Marina, you can't go with this story because this is a Fox News story.' She said, 'Oh, I'm not going to go with it. It's just going to be a teaser.' 10 o'clock at night when the news comes on, this is the top of the news show and it's an exclusive breaking news. Not a teaser! And I'm like, 'What?' And that's when hell began for me."
Wheeler said he went to Marraco because he wanted to see if she'd heard anything about the story. But Butowsky told CNN that Wheeler had expressed a romantic interest in her. CNN has not been able to independently confirm this. Marraco and WTTG did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Asked for comment, Wheeler directed CNN to his attorneys, who said it was "not true" and that "in no way was Rod Wheeler 'romantically interested' in Ms. Marraco."
In the aftermath of Fox's report, Wheeler has claimed that Marraco's report took him out of context. He said in the online audio recording that Marraco presented a "totally incomplete" version of what he said, and alleged that Marraco edited the interview in a way which made it appear he had direct knowledge Rich emailed Wikileaks, when, he said, he'd attributed that information to a federal law enforcement source Zimmerman had told him about.
Moreover, Wheeler said, he didn't even know the camera was rolling during his conversation with Marraco.
Thursday, August 10, 2017
"Exclusive: The chaos behind the scenes of Fox News' now-retracted Seth Rich story"