When a reporter gets the story wrong

The notion that an indictment is coming in the FBI probe of the Clinton Foundation likely won’t evaporate even though the reporter who invented the assertion has said he was wrong.

Bret Baier, of FoxNews, today apologized for his story earlier this week, which was debunked by other news organizations within hours.

By then, it had already circulated around the planet and can’t be stopped now.

“All the time, but especially in a heated election on a topic this explosive, every word matters — no matter how well-sourced,” Baier told Fox News’ Jon Scott in the Friday broadcast of “Happening Now.” “Which brings me to this: I explained a couple of times yesterday the phrasing of one of my answers to [Fox News host] Brit Hume on Wednesday night, saying it was inartful the way I answered [a] 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.”

Inartful? Hardly, CNN’s media reporter Brian Stelter said after Baier’s mea culpa.

“​CNN’s Evan Perez​, NBC, ABC​ ​all have said​ based​ on ​other ​anonymous sources​ that​ ​​there is no evidence ​that any ​of the Fox ​stuff is true. That there is nothing close to an indictment. In fact, it’s pretty clear there’s a battle inside the FBI. That’s the real story here,” he said.

Baier’s forced apology is yet another cautionary tale. Get it right the first time.