Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tom Ricks is denying he ever apologized to Fox News after saying or air Monday that the network was acting as "a wing of the Republican party," calling accusations to the contrary "horses**t."
Ricks appeared on Fox to promote his new book, The Generals, and responded to a question about Susan Rice's possible nomination as Secretary of State by saying the right-leaning networked had "hyped" the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Fox's vice president of news Michael Clemente fired back in what became the first of a series of increasingly contentious pot-shots between the two men.
Wednesday, Ricks appeared on HuffPost Live to more fully explain what he says is how the on-air segment and his conversations with Fox staff afterwards actually went.
HuffPost Live anchor Ahmed Shihab-Eldin asked Ricks to respond specifically to Clemente's statement accusing him of lacking "the strength of character to [apologize] publicly."
"That's horses**t," Ricks said.
Ricks went on to say his dim view of television news wasn't limited to Fox.
""Fox really seems to sell outrage as its product, and MSNBC doesn't as much," he said. "But they both seem to me to be running political campaigns almost more than they are running news networks. So I don't particularly like either. That said, I'm not a fan of TV news generally. I think it's a lousy place to get your information from."
Rick's answer begins at 1:30:
After Ricks accused Fox of "hyping" the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Clemente turned the tables on Ricks and accused him of trying to bring attention to himself
“When Mr. Ricks ignored the anchor’s question, it became clear that his goal was to bring attention to himself — and his book,” Clemente said, in an email to the Hollywood Reporter. “He apologized in our offices afterward but doesn’t have the strength of character to do that publicly.”
Ricks also sent an email to THR, denying he ever apologized.
"Please ask Mr. Clemente what the words of my supposed apology were," he wrote. "I'd be interested to know. Frankly, I don't remember any such apology."
By Tuesday afternoon, both parties were refusing to back off their positions and the fight was getting catty.
Clemente spoke with TVNewser, calling Ricks "utterly dishonest."
"I’m surprised by the General’s utter dishonesty,” Clemente said. “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.”
Ricks then sent an email to Clemente, again denying any apology.
Mr. Clemente, To clarify my comments for you: I did not apologize.
As it happened, I ran into Bret Baier as I emerged from the interview. We know each other from working at the Pentagon. He asked if I was serious in saying that Fox had hyped Bengahzi, and I said I was. We discussed that. It was cordial exchange. (I wouldn’t mention this private conversation except that you apparently are quoting my hallway conversations as part of your attack.)
Later, as I was leaving, the booker or producer (I am not sure what her title was) said she thought I had been rude. I said I might have been a bit snappish because I am tired of book tour. This was in no way an apology but rather an explanation of why I jumped a bit when the anchor began the segment with the assertion that pressure on the White House was building—which it most clearly was not.