Fox News anchor Bret Baier apologized Friday for reporting that federal investigators had determined that Hillary Clinton’s private email server had been hacked and that an investigation would lead to an indictment of Clinton after the election.
In fact, Baier said, after checking with his sources, there is no evidence at this time for either statement.
Baier, the anchor of Fox’s evening newscast “Special Report,” went on the air Wednesday to report that the FBI had determined that Clinton’s private server, which she used while serving as secretary of state, had been hacked by “five foreign intelligence agencies.”
He further said on Thursday, during an interview with Fox’s Brit Hume, that a separate FBI investigation — of the charitable Clinton Foundation — was “likely” to lead to an indictment of Clinton after Tuesday’s election.
Both statements, if true, would be explosive developments in the late stages of the presidential campaign between Clinton and Republican rival Donald Trump. Trump has repeatedly invoked the alleged atmosphere of corruption around the Clinton Foundation and the security risks involved in Clinton’s use of a private server while secretary of state as reasons not to vote for Clinton.
But neither of his reports about Clinton were accurate, Baier acknowledged Friday morning in a “Fox News alert” conversation with Fox News anchor Jon Scott.
[There’s never been a better time to sue a journalist]
Baier said he relied on a single anonymous source within the FBI for his report about an alleged hack of the server: “I was quoting from one source about his certainty that the server had been hacked by five foreign intelligence agencies. . . . As of today there still are no digital fingerprints of a breach, no matter what the working assumption is within the bureau.”
He added, “All the time, but especially in a heated election, on a topic this explosive, every word matters no matter how well sourced.”
He went on to describe his comment to Hume about an indictment — which he has previously called “inartful” — as more than that.
“I explained the phrasing of one 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. I should have said they will continue to build their case.
“‘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.”
As an addendum, he added, “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.”