Speaking at a town hall in his hometown of Storm Lake, Iowa, King was asked if he would stand by remarks in which he questioned whether there would be “any population of the world left” if not for rape and incest throughout history.

King pushed back, asserting that the comment gained national headlines because a “very active and vibrant left-wing media” picked up a misquote from the Des Moines Register’s initial reporting, CNN reported. He also contended that the media “decided to do a hack job.”

“Iowans are significantly more positive than they are negative, and they know [The Associated Press] has retracted the quote they initially used because they relied on the Des Moines Register, who did the same,” King said, according to video from NBC affiliate WHO. “So when we have a national, viral attack that comes down on a misquote and it’s absolutely proven, all of those who did that attack owe me an apology, including my own leadership. I don’t expect that’s going to happen because egos are a little too strong in this business.”