The report had cited an account given by Florida congressman Cory Mills, but soon after the story’s publication the Republican representative appeared to walk back his claims.
“Family forced to pay to ship body of Marine killed after Pentagon policy change: ‘Egregious injustice’,” read the headline of the news article, which has now been removed from Fox’s website.
“The now unpublished story has been addressed internally and we sincerely apologize to the Gee family,” a Fox News spokesperson said in a statement on Saturday, according to CNN.
Gee was one of 13 US troops killed in a suicide bombing at Afghanistan’s Kabul airport in August 2021, which happened as the Biden administration withdrew American forces from the country.
The apology came after US military news portal Military.com reported last week that the Marine Corps wrote to Fox News executives to convince them to retract the story, adding that the family never had to pay a dollar.
“This headline correction is still misleading and your story is still false,” Major James Stenger, the lead spokesperson for the Marine Corps, told the outlet about its now unpublished 25 July story.
“Using the grief of a family member of a fallen Marine to score cheap clickbait points is disgusting,” he wrote, according to Military.com.
The report said that after the initial complaint, Fox News changed the headline and certain paragraphs of the story to reflect the information it received following publication.
It altered the report to indicate more prominently that the story had come from Mr Mills, while adding that comments from the Marine Corps and the Gee family were not sought ahead of publication.
Fox News had said they had reached out to the Pentagon but had not received a response immediately.
“To be clear: It’s not enough that you went back and added our statement after the original story was on your website for several hours,” Mr Stenger wrote to Fox News, according to Military.com.
“The story should be removed entirely and a new story should replace it.”
Florida congressman Mr Mills appeared to walk back his original claims in a statement published on his X account on 28 July.
In his statement, Mr Mills said the family of Gee were “in their time of grief, confused” about the transportation of the remains and that a request for records from the US Department of Defense (DoD) without the family’s consent would be “inappropriate”.
He had also said he was “thankful” that the department had issued a clarification on the matter.
“Regardless of who covered the costs in this instance, there should never be a situation in which the DoD does not proactively make it clear to families their willingness to cover transportation for servicemembers who have sacrificed their lives for our country,” the statement said.
Mr Mills said he will continue to work with his colleagues in Congress “to ensure this is never a concern for a Gold Star family”.