Fox News bans retired general McInerney after ‘Songbird John’ McCain insult

May 14, 2018

Fox News bans retired general McInerney after ‘Songbird John’ McCain insult Sean Donohue /

A Fox guest who insulted Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won’t be coming back to the network.

Fox announced Friday that it had cut ties with ex-general Thomas McInerney, after he said torture “worked” on “Songbird John” McCain. The offensive comment came amid an on-air discussion of the controversy over the nomination of Gina Haspel as CIA chief.

Fox cuts ties with ex-general

Appearing as a guest on Fox Business Thursday, McInerney claimed that McCain gave away secrets to the enemy when he was a Vietnam prisoner of war. Host Charles Payne had asked the former Air Force general how Congress should consider Haspel, and he replied that torture “worked” on McCain.

“The fact is … it worked on John. That’s why they call him ‘Songbird John’.”

McCain was a prisoner of war for five and a half years. Politifact notes that there’s no evidence for the claim that he forfeited compromising intelligence to his captors. McCain has, however, said that he regrets making a false confession tape, which came after enduring days of beatings and torture at the hands of his captors.

Payne did not correct McInerney at the time of the statement, but he later apologized on Twitter, and in a followup appearance on air:

McCain’s wife, Cindy, chided Payne and Fox. “Please choose your guests more wisely,” she tweeted Thursday.

“Yes, I will and I hope you accept my apology,” Payne replied.

A spokeswoman for Fox News said Friday that McInerney will no longer be allowed on the network, the Washington Times reported. McInerney was formerly a military analyst on Fox and Fox Business. According to the spokeswoman, his contract ran up in August.

Torture controversy

McCain came out in opposition to Haspel’s nomination Wednesday. He called Haspel a patriot, but questioned her involvement in torture programs in her career as a CIA agent, saying her “role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee questioned Haspel last week over her stances on torture as an interrogation technique. While she disputed that torture “worked,” she declined to say whether it’s immoral.

White House staffer Kelly Sadler also got into trouble with a McCain comment this week after saying at a private huddle that McCain’s opposition to Haspel doesn’t matter because he’s “dying anyway.” McCain’s wife and daughter came to his defense, with Meghan McCain calling for Sadler’s firing on The View, which she co-hosts.

McCain, who has a new political memoir set to be released next week, was diagnosed last year with glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. He has been at home at his ranch in Arizona since December, but remains vocal on issues in Washington, often in opposition to the Trump administration.

While what McInerney said about McCain was wrong, it doesn’t mean anybody is forced to like the Republican senator. When McCain finally leaves Congress, many conservatives will be relieved to see one less RINO in the Capitol.

Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.