In the annals of bad TV takes, it’s going to be hard to beat the one offered by a Fox News military analyst earlier today: Torture works, and he knows tortures works because it made John McCain cough up sensitive information during the years he spent as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
“It worked on John [McCain],” retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney said during a Thursday appearance on the Fox Business Network. “That’s why they call him ‘Songbird John.’”
McInerney, an avid supporter of President Donald Trump, mentioned McCain in a segment about CIA director nominee Gina Haspel. Here’s why: On Wednesday, the senator vowed to vote against her nomination and recommended his colleagues do the same. (Haspel reportedly oversaw the torture of prisoners after 9/11 and the destruction of nearly 100 videotapes documenting some of the CIA’s more brutal interrogation sessions.)
— Leanne Naramore (@LeanneNaramore) May 10, 2018
But let’s be clear: Torture didn’t work on McCain — not even close.
Here’s McCain’s account of being tortured in his book Faith of My Fathers: “Pressed for more useful information, I gave the names of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line, and said they were members of my squadron.”
As Lawfare’s Susan Hennessey pointed out on Twitter, McCain also “refused early release from a prison camp where he was tortured so as not to leave his men behind.”
McInerney didn’t offer any examples of things that McCain purportedly gave up under torture, so It’s unclear what he meant by his reference to the senator and former GOP presidential candidate.
That may be why Fox Business host Charles Payne, who interviewed McInerney, promptly issued a two-tweet apology for failing to challenge the general’s comments.
I regret I did not catch this remark, as it should have been challenged. As a proud military veteran and son of a Vietnam Vet these words neither reflect my or the network’s feelings about Senator McCain, or his remarkable service and sacrifice to this country.”
Charles V. Payne
— Charles V Payne (@cvpayne) May 10, 2018
But perhaps the network needs to apologize for having McInerney on in the first place. This is a man, after all, who falsely insisted that former President Barack Obama wasn’t an American (and that Obama was a secret Muslim).
Here’s how far McInerney once took that argument, per Mother Jones:
In 2010, McInerney filed an affidavit in support of an army officer who was awaiting trial for refusing to obey orders from his commanding officers until Obama produced his long-form birth certificate. McInerney said in the affidavit he has “widespread and legitimate concerns that the President is constitutionally ineligible to hold office.”
It was good of Payne to take responsibility for failing to challenge McInerney’s attacks on McCain, and McInerney himself will address his remarks on Fox at 6 pm Thursday. But it would be even better if Fox had cut its ties with him a long time ago.
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