32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
In democracy, you can call politicians names without reprisal. In many ways, political mocking is a national sport. This is not the case in other nations, nor was it politically correct for a first century Jew to speak ill of Roman rule. They had crosses and cat-o-nines for mouthy people.
Jesus calls Herod Antipas a ‘fox’. To a Jewish mind, this indicated an unclean animal. The fox was unholy and one to avoid. This was the Herod that Jesus would soon stand before in trial.
When Jesus calls someone by a derogatory name, it is most often directed to leaders who pervert justice. Such was the record of Herod Antipas Foxworthy. He was a Jewish born Roman leader who did many things to insult the conscience of his constituents.
"In 17 AD, to honor his Roman overlords, he build a grand new capital city named Tiberius, after the current emperor, only to discover that it was built on top of an old Jewish cemetery. No pious Jew ever entered it, and it was inhabited almost exclusively by Greeks and Romans.
It was this Herod who had John the Baptist killed. John had been a persistent critic of Herod for his dubious marriage and his general immorality. The Gospels say he had John killed because he had promised his daughter Salome anything she wanted if she danced for him, and John’s head on a platter is what she wanted. The historian Josephus wrote that Herod’s subjects believed that the war that broke out in 36 AD with the Arabs (recall the first divorced wife), and the subsequent Arab military successes, were divine punishment for Herod's many transgressions.
So for these reasons, and for the fact that he let his daughter dance in public, which was considered a shameful act, the readers of this story would have understood that Herod Antipas was an unrighteous man and an unfit ruler. No pious Jew would ever have let his daughter dance in front of strangers. "
(excerpt from Richard L. Floyd , http://richardlfloyd.blogspot.com/2010/02/why-did-jesus-refer-to-herod-as-that.html )