Fox's Media Critic Covers For Bret Baier's Disastrous FBI Reporting
HOWARD KURTZ (HOST): In these final days of the 2016 campaign, the media have been awash in leaks about James Comey launching new FBI inquiries into Hillary Clinton. Joining us now to look at the coverage, Ed Henry, Fox News chief national correspondent. So, Bret Baier and Fox reported based on sources that a separate FBI probe of the Clinton Foundation has been going on for more than a year, is very high priority, many interviews being aggressively pursued. NBC’s Pete Williams says few want to call it an investigation. That’s a term of art at the FBI. There was an initial inquiry open a couple of months ago based largely on media reports and the book Clinton Cash. So is this becoming a battle of leaks?
ED HENRY: It is a battle of leaks. And we can get to the substance of the allegations in a minute. But first, yeah, I spoke to a senior FBI source who said Bret and others were right, that there was this big meeting at the beginning of this year, FBI and the Obama Justice Department, where some of these FBI agents presented some serious allegations against the Clinton Foundation, wrongdoing, financial issues. And they got pushback. Not just from the Obama Justice Department. Some people assume that’s just politics. They don’t want it to come out in an election year. But I’m told some of the FBI superiors as well said wait a second, it’s not quite there. And by the way, that’s not that unusual. This happens with FBI investigations on any number of issues. Agents present evidence, they present facts, they present hearsay, they present everything, and then people above them have to make decisions. By the way, Howie, that’s what we do in newsrooms as well. You say I want the story on the front page tomorrow.
KURTZ: And I’m your editor, I say, Ed, you haven’t got it. Go back and do some more reporting. That’s not unusual in a criminal investigation. What is unusual is the way in which this has all leaked out because this stuff is usually so closely held. I want to come back to that but let me mention that Bret Baier clarified his report on Friday saying his sources are now not certain that Hillary Clinton’s server, the personal server was hacked by foreign intelligence agents and he addressed a subsequent interview after his report in which he had said — was asked about whether the investigations would continue after the election. He said, yes, our sources said it would, that they would continue to likely an indictment. That was a mistake Bret Baier said. That he was sorry. He should have said they will continue to build their case. And that was the right thing to do, to clarify. But on this question of it’s all playing out in public, The Wall Street Journal was the first to get at this, Ed, saying that FBI agents were pursuing this, were kind of hot on this story, but senior Justice Department and FBI officials didn’t think they had much evidence, and they asked the agents to stand down but some of them kept going. So it sounds like somewhere between an important investigation that is being pooh-poohed or some rogue agents that don’t want to give up.
KURTZ: The lead of Bret Baier’s story was that there is an FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation and Fox stands by that.