Tom Ricks vs. Fox News, Take 2

What is the deal with this Tom Ricks story? Fox News sure is touchy these days. A Fox executive told the Hollywood Reporter that after his abruptly terminated interview yesterday, Ricks apologized for telling the truth about the network on the air.

Tom Ricks, a former Washington Post reporter and author of best-selling books Fiasco and The Generals, briefly spoke with FNC’s Jon Scott about the death of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya. In a brief interview, Ricks first said FNC “hyped” the embassy attack and said a bit later that “Fox was operating as a wing of the Republican Party” before Scott ended the interview.

Michael Clemente, executive vp, news editorial at FNC, tells The Hollywood Reporter that Ricks dodged Scott’s question (“When you have four people dead, including the first U.N. ambassador in more than 30 years, how do you call that ‘hype’?”).
“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 e-mail to THR. “He apologized in our offices afterward but doesn’t have the strength of character to do that publicly.”

But Ricks says the apology story is a big ol’ lie. From Politico:

Ricks told POLITICO that Michael Clemente, Fox’s executive vice president of news, made the claim he apologized privately because “when the facts aren’t on their side, they attack the person.”

“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,” Ricks wrote in an e-mail. “Why are they doing this? Because their MO is that when the facts aren’t on their side, they attack the person.”

Ricks told the Washington Post that

I had told the producer before I went on that I thought the Benghazi story had been hyped. So it should have been no surprise when I said it and the anchor pushed back that I defended my view.

I also have been thinking a lot about George Marshall, the Army chief of staff during World War II, and one of the heroes of my new book. He got his job by speaking truth to power, and I have been thinking that we all could benefit by following his example as much as we can.

After I went off the air I saw some surprised faces in the hallway. One staff person said she thought I had been rude. My feeling was that they asked my opinion and I gave it.

Ricks also told the Hollywood Reporter in an e-mail:

“Please ask Mr. Clemente what the words of my supposed apology were. I’d be interested to know,” he said. “Frankly, I don’t remember any such apology.”

Clemente responded, according to TPM:

“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 is not a general, but he did write a book called The Generals.

You be the judge. I report, you decide. (This is an open thread.)