After Epic On Air Embarrassment, Fox Goes Into Full Pout Mode

Yesterday, Pulitzer Prize winning author Tom Ricks delivered a stinging blow to the pride of Fox News in the shortest interview of all time. In less than a minute, Ricks not only accused Fox of being an arm of the GOP but proved it. It caused quite a stir in the blogosphere. Fox’s response? Character assassination and lies.

Via Politico:

Michael Clemente, Fox’s executive vice president of news, told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday Ricks was only seeking publicity with his guest appearance. Ricks, he said, ignored the interview question, “When you have four people dead, including the first U.N. ambassador in more than 30 years, how do you call that hype?”, in order to promote his new book — but later apologized.

“When Mr. Ricks ignored the anchor’s question, it became clear that his goal was to bring attention to himself — and his book,” Clemente told THR in an e-mail. “He apologized in our offices afterward but doesn’t have the strength of character to do that publicly.”

This is a curious response since Ricks was directly answering the host’s question. Transcript via Media Matters:

Jon Scott (co-host): Senator John McCain said in the past he would block any attempt to nominate Susan Rice to become U.N. — I’m sorry, secretary of state. She’s currently the U.N. ambassador. He seems to be backing away from that. What do you make of it? 

Ricks: I think that Benghazi generally was hyped, by this network especially, and that now that the campaign is over, I think he’s backing off a little bit. They’re not going to stop Susan Rice from being secretary of state.

That’s a pretty direct answer to a pretty direct question. Why is John McCain backing off? Because the whole thing was hype in the first place. This is not the answer they were looking for but it is an answer to the question.

Mr. Ricks did not seem cowed by Clemente’s accusation:

“Please ask Mr. Clemente what the words of my supposed apology were. I’d be interested to know,” he wrote in an e-mail to THR. “Frankly, I don’t remember any such apology.”

I can imagine that Ricks said something to the effect of, “Sorry, but it’s true” or, “Sorry, but that’s how I see it” afterwards. This would, technically, be an apology but hardly the kind Clemente is speaking of. Certainly it would not have anything to do with a lack of character on Ricks’ part.
Watching this back and forth unfold, one gets the impression of a child pouting after his feelings were hurt. Clemente’s obvious need to salve his wounded ego does little to give credibility to his claims while Ricks’ unflinching take down of Fox suggests he knew exactly what he was saying and that he meant it. An accomplished writer and (retired) journalist is unlikely to apologize for speaking his mind.

If Fox had any sense, they would let this drop before it gets any worse. It’s possible, however, that with the public drubbing Fox has been getting lately over its hard to understate role in costing the GOP the election, they might be feeling a bit defensive.Good.

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