Fox News Channel likes to pound the drums for patriotism and the armed forces. Odd, then, that it keeps letting its military analyst rail against the Pentagon for curtailing money to his clients.

Fox's Thomas McInerney is a shill, as established in David Batstow's Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on the retired lieutenant general's work, and that of others, to promote the war in Iraq using talking points spoon-fed by Donald Rumseld's Defense Department. ("Good work - we will use it," McInerney once wrote his handlers.)

Like other retired generals, McInerney had defense-industry clients who profited from the war; contractors who placed McInerney on their boards and hired him as a consultant.

McInerney is still going to bat for them. As we reported earlier this month, he went on Fox News immediately after Somali pirates hijacked an American cargo ship to bizarrely insist the supersonic, air-to-air F-22 Raptor jet fighter was perfect for killing pirates, using the same cannon nearly every other U.S. fighter has, plus a high-altitude spy drone and a refueling tanker.

The F-22, the drone and at least one tanker are made, in part or whole, by McInerney's sometime consulting client Northrop Grumman. Northrop is a major subcontractor on the F-22; McInerney consulted for another F-22 contractor, Cobham. Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants to cut new orders of the plane.

Fox News by now is well aware of McInerney's industry ties. And yet it again indulged his single-minded ranting in support of the F-22 and against the Secretary of Defense this past weekend on America's News HQ, as Media Matters is reporting. (See clip above.)

No disclosure of McInerney's conflict of interest was forthcoming as he said it's only a matter of time before third-world powers like Iraq outfox our fighter pilots:

We would not have been able to conduct Operation Iraqi Freedom nor Operation Northern Watch or Southern Watch with only 100 F-22s with the threat coming for 30 years.

On the off chance Iraq did acquire some sort of superfighter technology after crawling out of lawlessness, we'd still have the F-35 Lightning II, but Fox's Jamie Colby didn't bring that up. Which is a little bizarre: If the commander-in-chief and his Republican-appointed Secretary of Defense say troops are better off with F-22 money spent elsewhere, why is Fox News swallowing whole private-sector efforts to claw that money back?

The network does have its pride. In fact, it's rather famous for it. Even a disclaimer is apparently too much to ask as Fox's shill general tears into the Department of Defense. Running one might clarify the debate over military spending priorities, and thus benefit American troops, but it would also imply the Times had a point in its Pulitzer-winning series. The combative news network isn't about to let that happen.

[Media Matters]