Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas E. Ricks, who was cut off on Fox News after saying the network was "operating as a wing of the Republican Party," denies a report that he apologized off the air.
Ricks (left), who won Pulitzers covering the military for The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, said Monday in an interview with Fox News' Jon Scott that the network had "hyped" the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in September in order to make the Obama Administration look bad.
The author of the new book "The Generals" asked Scott if he knew how many security contractors have died in Iraq, and Scott conceded he didn't know. Ricks said "nobody cared" about those deaths, but that the four deaths in Benghazi, Libya, drew attention because of the presidential election.
"I think the emphasis on Benghazi has been extremely political, partly because Fox is operating as the wing of Republican Party," Ricks said.
At that point, Scott ended the interview. What happened next is in dispute.
In an email to The Hollywood Reporter, Michael Clemente, Fox's executive vice president of news, accused Ricks of ignoring a question from Scott because "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," Clemente told THR.
Ricks told Politico that Clemente was lying.
"Clemente is making it up, and it is sloppy of Hollywood Reporter to not ask him for specifics (what exactly am I alleged to have said?) and also to seek a response from me," he said in an email. "Why are they doing this? Because their MO is that when the facts aren't on their side, they attack the person."
Clemente told TVNewser that he was surprised by Ricks' "utter dishonesty" and said Ricks had in fact apologized to Fox News staff.
"I'll refresh his memory -- what he said following the segment was, 'Sorry… I'm tired from a non-stop book tour.' Perhaps now he can finally get some rest," Clemente said.
Watch Ricks' interview with Fox News, courtesy of Mediaite: