The fight between Fox News and Foreign Policy reporter Tom Ricks has escalated, with Fox News claiming Ricks apologized off air for saying on air Monday that the network hyped the Benghazi attacks because "Fox was operating as a wing of the Republican Party." Ricks says no such apology happened.
When Fox anchor Jon Scott asked whether the deaths of four Americans was really "hype," Ricks suggested that Fox was certainly far more interested in these deaths than in others in war zones.
Ricks: How many security contractors died in Iraq do you know?
Scott: I don't.
Ricks: No, nobody does, because nobody cared. We know that several hundred died but there was never an official count done.
Okay, sure. Ricks was sassy on live TV, but afterward, he was cowering, Fox News claims. The networks executive vice president for news editorial, Michael Clemente, told The Hollywood Reporter, "When Mr. Ricks ignored the anchor’s question, it became clear that his goal was to bring attention to himself -- and his book... He apologized in our offices afterward but doesn’t have the strength of character to do that publicly."
But Ricks has been pretty public in the not-quite-24-hours since the incident. "One reason I spoke the way I did is that the hero of my new book is George Marshall, the Army chief of staff during World War II," Ricks told The New York Times' Brian Stelter. "He got his position by speaking truth to power, and I try to follow that example." As for his supposed apology? Ricks told THR, "Please ask Mr. Clemente what the words of my supposed apology were. I'd be interested to know... Frankly, I don't remember any such apology."
Expect more zingers to come, because, as The New York Times' David Carr explained in 2008, hell hath no fury like a Fox publicist scorned.