In a statement, Fox News executive vice president Michael Clemente said:
We took every precaution to avoid any such live incident by putting the helicopter pictures on a five second delay. Unfortunately, this mistake was the result of a severe human error and we apologize for what viewers ultimately saw on the screen.
Using helicopter footage from a local affiliate, the station began following the chase at around 3pm and continued covering it when the carjacker pulled off the highway and walked out into a field.
"I'm just not sure about this," Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said over the footage as the man left his car. "This makes me a little nervous, I gotta tell ya."
"Get off! Get off! Get off! Get off it!" Smith then shouted repeatedly to his control room as the network showed video of the man putting a gun to his head.
After returning from an abrupt commercial break, Smith said that a technical mistake prevented the station's usual video delay from working.
"We really messed up...that didn't belong on TV," he said.
Here's Smith's on-air apology and explanation for what happened:
Well, some explaining to do. While we were taking that car chase and showing it to you live -- when the guy pulled over and got out of the vehicle, we went on delay. So that's why I didn't talk for about 10 seconds. We created a five second delay, as if you were to bleep your back DVR five seconds, that's what we did with the picture we were showing you. So that we would see in the studio what was happening five seconds before you did so that if anything went horribly wrong, we'd be able to cut away from it without subjecting you to it. And we really messed up and we're all very sorry. That didn't belong on TV. We took every precaution we knew how to take to keep that from being on TV, and I personally apologize to you that that happened. ... That was wrong and that won't happened again on my watch and I'm sorry.
Smith said that Fox News would update viewers on what happened Friday night on "The Fox Report."
[Video via Mediaite]