Fox Business host Charles Payne has apologized after a chat endorsing torture led to a guest’s smear of the gravely ill Senator John McCain. It was part of an effort not just to praise torture but to smear those who don’t support it as an all-American value. UPDATED with Payne's on-air apology.
Media Matters caught the exchange between Payne and former military analyst for the network, Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney. The discussion was an effort to promote the confirmation of Gina Haspel, who, as Time reported, “once led an agency ‘black site’ in Thailand where detainees were subjected to torture. She is also linked to a decision within the agency to destroy evidence of the interrogations.”
Even if you believe Haspel deserves to be confirmed based on her vow in yesterday’s confirmation hearing not to allow torture (despite her refusal to condemn it as immoral), the fact that Fox keeps endorsing it anyway (in concert with Cadet Bone Spurs Trump) is a chilling suggestion that the pressure will be on her to bring it back. Yesterday, host Greg Gutfeld, who never served, reaffirmed his support for torture. Earlier today, “five deferments” Dick Cheney showed his love on Fox Business.
Management appreciated Cheney’s comments so much, Payne re-aired them on FBN’s Varney & Co., then asked McInerney for his “thoughts.”
MCINERNEY: Well, it’s very simple to me, Charles. If we have some terrorists and the possibility of five nuclear weapons going off in U.S. cities, I want to use any method that will determine where they are, when it’s going to happen and how we can nullify them. I’m not interested in values.
As is usual with Fox conservatives, McInerney couldn’t just leave it there but also used the moment to demonize Democrats. Complaining about the Democrats’ concerns during Haspel’s confirmation hearing as the “dumbest set of questions I’ve ever heard,” he added, “It ought to ensure all our viewers never elect a Democrat again.”
Payne chuckled in appreciation. Then he offered his own gratitude for torture:
PAYNE: Senator John McCain said he’s not going to endorse Haspel also in part because she believes in torture, that she thinks it works, even though she laid out at least three instances where it did work to the benefit of humankind, not just Americans, but all human beings. Should they be evaluating this nominee on her feelings, or based strictly on the facts and her commitment not to use it anymore because it’s no longer legal for us.
That’s when McInerney figured McCain deserved to be smeared, too:
MCINERNEY: Well, she can’t use it anymore because we have determined in Congress that it’s not legal. 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.
“Songbird” is an old smear of McCain. PolitiFact has an explanation of what happened to McCain when he was tortured and imprisoned in Vietnam: Spoiler: There is no evidence he helped the enemy.
Later today, Payne apologized on Twitter and said he will also apologize on the air tonight and tomorrow. About McCain, not for endorsing torture and not for chuckling over the smear of Democrats.
My Apology to Senator McCain and his Family— Charles V Payne (@cvpayne) May 10, 2018
“This morning on a show I was hosting, a guest made a very false and derogatory remark about Senator John McCain. At the time, I had the control room in my ear telling me to wrap the segment, and did not hear the comment.
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 (@cvpayne) May 10, 2018
Charles V. Payne
I plan to apologize tonight and tomorrow.— Charles V Payne (@cvpayne) May 10, 2018
Watch the stomach-turning love for torture below, from the May 10, 2018 Varney & Co., via Media Matters.
7 PM UPDATE: Payne's on-air apology is underneath.
If Haspel doesn’t show more moral fiber than that, she should not be confirmed. Her 30 years of service would be more like the career of a lackey than someone able (and willing) to respect the values laid down in the Constitution of the USA.
I can’t blame anyone for what is said when they’re going through agonizing pain. Can you?
Anyone can talk like a Yankee Doodle, flag waving, John Wayne when it’s someone else dealing with the horrors of war, but the truth is when I get a papercut I drop like Lincoln at Ford’s Theater.