Fox News Guest Tom Ricks: I Never Apologized
The off-air war of words between Fox News Channel executive vp Michael Clemente and Tom Ricks, a Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter and author who was a guest on the network, continued Tuesday.
In the latest salvo, Ricks says Clemente isn't telling the truth about an alleged apology, while Clemente claims Ricks "tried to anchor" during the brief segment on FNC.
Ricks was an on-air guest for FNC Monday, where he accused the top-rated cable news network of hyping the story of four Americans who were killed in Benghazi and questioned anchor Jon Scott about the number of U.S. security consultants who died in Iraq. After Ricks said FNC was "operating as a wing of the Republican Party" by over-covering Benghazi, Scott cut the interview short. (See video below).
The episode was widely covered by the Washington Post, Politico and the Huffington Post.
After the episode, Clemente told The Hollywood Reporter Ricks was more interested in attacking FNC than answering questions about Benghazi. Clemente then added that Ricks “apologized in our offices afterward but doesn’t have the strength of character to do that publicly.”
Ricks, though, now says he never apologized -- and on Tuesday he emailed Clemente to that effect, then shared that note with several journalists.
“To clarify my comments for you: I did not apologize,” Ricks began. The rest of his letter to Clemente is below.
“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 (sic), and I said I was. We discussed that. It was (a) 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 (sic) 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.”
Asked about the letter, Clemente told The Hollywood Reporter: "If it helps him sell books, good for him." He also said that Ricks wouldn't be invited back on FNC any time soon, and he doubled down on his assertion that Ricks apologized after Monday's FNC appearance.
"I understand being tired, but he said he was sorry and that to me sounds like an apology. I can't get inside his head and I don't know him -- he's obviously an accomplished author and was a solid reporter for the Washington Post -- but he was asked to come on to talk about Benghazi and related issues and within two questions he was trying to anchor, and it wasn't at all what we discussed in the pre-interview." Clemente said.
"This isn't American Idol. You can see he went right into his monologue," Clemente continued. "It's not fair to the viewers to say you're going to talk about one thing and then use the platform to talk about another. I get it if you're 18 and pulling a prank, but not if you're someone who has been in the business a while."