Fox News Channel has apologised for an inaccurate report this week that Hillary Clinton was likely to be indicted as a result of an investigation by the FBI into the Clinton Foundation.
Fox’s Bret Baier, who initially reported on the case on Wednesday, said on Friday that “it was a mistake, and for that I’m sorry”.
Mrs Clinton’s critics have accused her family of giving donors special access to the State Department when she was secretary of state.
The Associated Press reported this week that FBI agents seeking an investigation into the foundation talked to Justice Department lawyers last winter about allegations they wanted to pursue, but prosecutors were wary about the strength of the information they presented.
It is unclear whether FBI agents are still looking into the foundation.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 4, 2016
Fox’s report, less than a week before Election Day, was a potential bombshell – if it held up.
Baier began backtracking on his report the next day, saying that his phrasing had been inartful.
“Well, that wasn’t just inartful, it was a mistake,” he said on Friday.
“Indictment obviously is a very loaded word … 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,” he said.
Baier has not identified the sources for his original report.
Baier also said in his original report that his sources believed with “a 99% accuracy” that Mrs Clinton’s email server had been hacked by at least five foreign intelligence agencies.
He said on Friday that he had one source for that information, and that while others believe that is probable, “there are still no digital fingerprints of a breach, no matter what the working assumption is within the bureau”.
“On a topic this explosive every word matters, no matter how well-sourced,” Baier said.
The meeting in February about the Clinton Foundation came after the book Clinton Cash by Republican political consultant Peter Schweizer was published, alleging that foreign governments donating to the foundation received favours at the State Department while Mrs Clinton was secretary.
The State Department has not found any ethics violations involving the foundation while Mrs Clinton was there.