Watch: Former Fox News Military Analyst Resurfaces Fake ‘Songbird’ John McCain Nickname to Defend Torture Use

A former Fox News military analyst falsely claimed Thursday that U.S. Senator John McCain was nicknamed “Songbird John” while he was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. The salacious claim alluded to McCain giving up information to the Viet Cong against his country and fellow service members.

Retired vice chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force turned media pundit Tom McInerney challenged McCain’s decision not to vote for CIA director nominee Gina Haspel, stating the enhanced interrogation techniques, or torture, worked on the Arizona Republican and “are effective” overall. McInerney was employed as a Fox News military analyst until August 2017, but still regularly appears on Fox News and Fox Business.

McCain made his stance against Haspel’s nomination specifically over her involvement in the U.S.’s interrogation program while she was a CIA officer.

While smearing McCain, McInerney also referenced comments made by former vice president Dick Cheney earlier in the day on the same network. Cheney said he wanted to bring the enhanced interrogation tactics back and believed they were not a form of torture.

“Well [Haspel] can't use it anymore because we have determined in Congress that it's not legal,” McInerney told Fox Business. “The fact is, is John McCain—it worked on John. That's why they call him 'Songbird John.' The fact is those methods can work, and they are effective, as former Vice President Cheney said. And if we have to use them to save a million American lives, we will do whatever we have to. ”

Fox Business host Charles Payne, whose show McInerney was appearing on, apologized for the remark and said in a statement that he was listening to the control room and did not hear McInerney’s false statement.

“I regret I did not catch this remark, as it should have been challenged,” Payne said. “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.”

The full and incorrect nickname given to McCain was “Hanoi Hilton songbird” and surfaced on a flyer distributed by a group called Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain during the South Carolina primary as McCain campaigned for president in 2008, according to PolitiFact.

That report indicates that McCain previously wrote in a memoir that he told his captors he would give them information, but only because he feared for his life and was severely injured.

McCain also wrote that he never intended “to keep my word” with the enemy.

McCain, who is currently battling brain cancer, was famously shot down in 1967 while serving in Vietnam and was not released from capture until 1973. Ever since he has been praised as a war hero and spoken out against the use of torture tactics.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct that fact that McInerney's role as a Fox News military analyst ended in August 2017. A statement from Fox Business host Charles Payne has also been included.

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