Fox News Channel president Roger Ailes sometimes says regrettable things about other journalists, but not all rise to the level of public apology, and his latest exists in its own strange non-apology netherworld. After he called New York Times reporters "a bunch of lying scum" during a speech at Ohio University, Ailes apparently thought he went too far. But instead of publicly apologizing for the slur, as he did when he compared NPR executives to Nazis, a "senior Fox News executive" anonymously told NewsBeast's Howard Kurtz that "he went too far and regrets using that language."
Do not mistake this for an apology. While Ailes apparently feels regret, communicating it through a nameless intermediary is not the same as publicly expressing it. And while this executive says Ailes feels The Times "has been fair to Fox under its new executive editor, Jill Abramson," all Ailes is actually on the record as saying about Times staffers is what he said at first: "They are a bunch of lying scum." In fact, The Huffington Post's Michael Calderone rightly questions why Kurtz granted this Fox executive anonymity in the first place. We haven't seen an answer from Kurtz so far.
Kurtz says Ailes was lashing out at one particular story but that "he's trying to walk it back." If this is what counts as walking something back, it's pretty lame.