The decision capped an earlier choice by the Times to walk back a tough lead on the story posted late Thursday -- which said a pair of inspectors general requested a criminal probe into Clinton's alleged sending of classified emails from her personal server. But the paper later backtracked, saying the probe was instead suggested for emails related to Clinton, though it didn't issue a correction until mid-Friday afternoon.
"An earlier version of this article and an earlier headline, using information from senior government officials, misstated the nature of the referral to the Justice Department regarding Hillary Clinton's personal email account while she was secretary of state. The referral addressed the potential compromise of classified information in connection with that personal email account. It did not specifically request an investigation into Mrs. Clinton."
The Times' correction capped a day of confusion and some back-and-forth as reporters scrambled to find out precisely what type of probe was requested and whether Clinton had emailed any classified information using her unsecured, personal email server.
On Friday, CNN reported
that the inspector general for the intelligence community had informed members of Congress that some material Clinton emailed from her private server contained classified information, but it was not identified that way.
Because it was not identified, it is unclear whether Clinton realized she was potentially compromising classified information.
The move on such a high-profile scoop was immediately panned by critics and the Clinton campaign. Clinton supporters sent around a tweet from former Nevada political writer Jon Ralston saying "This is just so, so dumb."
Friday evening, Eileen M. Murphy, the paper's vice president for corporate communications, told CNN that the paper did not plan to comment beyond the correction.
But one of the reporters, Michael Schmidt, defended the first version of the story on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Friday morning.
"We made a minor change to the story shortly after it went online that said the investigation was in connection with her email use," Schmidt said. "It didn't really deviate our story much from where we were before."
Schmidt said the Clinton campaign on Thursday, shortly before the story was published, "came at us very strong, and very late, and very forcefully."
Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill issued a statement on Friday that "It is now more clear than ever that The New York Times report claiming there is a criminal inquiry sought in Hillary Clinton's use of email is false."
He added, "This incident shows the danger of relying on reckless, inaccurate leaks from partisan sources."
Clinton on Friday afternoon addressed the controversy before a speech at New York University that focused on the economy.
"First, I want to say a word about what's in the news today. It's because there have been a lot of inaccuracies -- as Congressman (Elijah) Cummings made clear his morning. Maybe the heat is getting to everybody. We all have responsibility to get this right," Clinton said.
"We are all accountable to the American people to get the facts right and I will do my part," Clinton added.