December 4, 2012

The Washington Post | Fox News
Bob Woodward reports that Fox News chairman Roger Ailes had a Fox analyst visiting Afghanistan deliver a message to Gen. David Petraeus in 2011 — that the general should demand to be appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or else resign and run for president.

From Woodward’s scoop:

The Fox News chairman’s message was delivered to Petraeus by Kathleen T. McFarland, a Fox News national security analyst and former national security and Pentagon aide in three Republican administrations. She did so at the end of a 90-minute, unfiltered conversation with Petraeus that touched on the general’s future, his relationship with the media and his political aspirations — or lack thereof. The Washington Post has obtained a digital recording from the meeting, which took place in Petraeus’s office in Kabul.

McFarland suggested Ailes might resign to run Petraeus’ campaign. Petraeus also told McFarland that News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch was “after me as well” and might “bankroll” a Petraeus campaign.

Woodward says the “wily and sharp-tongued” Ailes admitted to his actions during an interview Monday, but claimed it was “more of a joke.”

McFarland wrote a column on on April 27, 2011, as Petraeus was headed for his CIA appointment, that revealed the same line of thinking:

I can’t help thinking that the Obama administration has done something a bit underhanded but politically shrewd by tapping Petraeus for the CIA. If he’s confirmed for the post, the White House has managed to park a potential rival in a place where he will be neither be seen nor heard from for the next 18 months.

Petraeus as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would have put the most respected American military leader in a generation in a position to challenge President Obama’s military policies. It would also give General Petraeus an even greater national national platform – should people try to draft him for a presidential or vice presidential run in 2012 or 2016.

Around the same time in 2011, Gabriel Sherman reported in New York Magazine that Ailes was looking to elect a president, but couldn’t find a candidate he liked.

Related: Michael Bloomberg asked Hillary Clinton to consider succeeding him as New York mayor in 2013 (New York Times) || Earlier: Media blames itself for “the cult of Gen. David Petraeus”

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Jeff Sonderman ( is the Digital Media Fellow at The Poynter Institute. He focuses on innovations and strategies for mobile platforms and social media in…
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