Merkel said on Friday that she had made a “mistake” when she initially called the poem by satirist Jan Böhmermann insulting Turkey's President “deliberately hurtful”, broadcaster Ntv reported.
“In hindsight, that was a mistake,” she said.
Merkel explained that after a “personal reflection”, she saw that this statement may have implied that she did not value freedom of expression or of the press.
But the Chancellor said that she was “still right” to make her more controversial move of allowing a criminal investigation to go through against Böhmermann following a complaint by Turkey.
In response to Ankara getting upset over another programme's song criticizing the Turkish leader, Böhmermann read a so-called “smear poem” on his public broadcast show, calling Recep Tayyip Erdogan a “goat fucker” who “watches child porn while kicking Kurds.”
Merkel had told Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at the time that she found the poem “deliberately offensive”.
But the poem also turned out to violate a seldom used German law against insulting foreign heads of state, and when Turkey formally complained, the government had to decide whether to allow an investigation into Böhmermann to go through.
Merkel stirred up heated debate and criticism when she announced last week that she would allow the case to go ahead.
Critics have said the move undermines Germany's principles of freedom of the press and of expression.