It's a rare thing to see anyone in politics apologize for anything, so it was refreshing when Fox News' Bret Baier appeared Friday with reporter Jon Scott to offer a mea culpa for a misleading report.
Wednesday, on Fox News' Special Report, anchor Bret Baier reported that sources with "intimate knowledge" of the FBI's Clinton Foundation investigation said there was a lot of evidence that "they believe...will continue to likely an indictment."
The term "likely indictment" exploded across social media and conservative publications.
However, Thursday, Baier walked back the story, explaining to Fox News' Brit Hume his explanation was "inartful," adding:
That’s not the process. That’s not how you do it. You have to have a prosecutor. If they don't move forward with a prosecutor with the DOJ, there would be, I'm told, a very public call for an independent prosecutor to move forward. There is confidence in the evidence, but for me to phrase it like I did, of course that got picked up everywhere, but the process is different than that.
Friday, he fully apologized, saying his words were more than inartful:
All the time, but especially in a heated election on a topic this explosive, every word matters — no matter how well-sourced. Which brings me to this: I explained a couple of times yesterday the phrasing of one of my answers to Brit Hume on Wednesday night, saying it was inartful the way I answered the last question about whether the investigations would continue after the election. And I answered that, yes, our sources said it would, they would continue to likely an indictment. Well that wasn't just inartful. It was a mistake. And for that, I’m sorry.
After his apology, he noted that "I should have said, 'they will continue to build their case.'" He continued:
Indictment, obviously, is a very loaded word, Jon--especially in this atmosphere--and no one knows if there would or would not be an indictment, no matter how strong investigators feel their evidence is. It's obviously a prosecutor who has to agree to take the case, and make that case to a grand jury.
However, despite apologizing for claiming that an indictment was "likely," Baier continues to back the information from his sources, and what they told Fox News about other matters, saying:
[Our sources] confirm that there is an active investigation into the Clinton Foundation that has been going on for more than a year. It is continuing, and for those investigators working it, it is a priority. But, we have also reported there is a split, not only between the FBI and the Department of Justice on this, but within the FBI.
On the hacking of Clinton's private, unsecured server, while multiple sources believe, and are operating under the working assumption, that the server has been hacked--and some had specific quotes to that belief--there are, to this day, no digital fingerprints of such breaches...
We stand by the sourcing on the ongoing, active, Clinton Foundation investigation, and are working to get sources with knowledge of the details on the record and on camera, hopefully today.
Baier apologized for implying a "likely indictment," and noted that while Fox News sources believe Clinton's email was hacked, no "digital fingerprints" are there to mark such a breach.
That said, it's important to distinguish Baier's apology from his assertion that he's confident in what Fox News sources are telling him, that there is indeed an active Clinton Foundation investigation, and that some are seemingly convinced of the hacking of Clinton's private server.