Petraeus: I love Roger [Ailes]. Q: I know. And he loves you..

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“Petraeus: I love Roger.

Q: I know. And he loves you, and everybody at Fox loves you. So what I’m supposed to say directly from him to you, through me, is first of all, is there anything Fox is doing, right or wrong, that you want to tell us to do differently?”

Sometimes a story – or a name – overstays its welcome with me. I feel like the press is crying “wolf” for the 100th time and I look and it’s absolutely nothing – - like an FBI agent who was shirtless in a picture but oh look – that was a joke that a reporter would’ve known if they just quit hyperventilating for a minute. Or perhaps over here there is supposed to be a matter of high conspiracy but then – oh look, it’s just John McCain losing his grip on reality. That’s why I was ignoring this thing about Petraeus the last couple days. But upon closer inspection, it’s it seems to actually be a big effing deal.

I’ve just read the transcript of a leaked interview of Petraeus by Fox news entertainment contributor Kathleen McFarland for the 2nd time and listened to the tape once.

This leaked 2011 interview reveals that FOX is willing to dole out ready-made news if it means it can cozy up with power players. In this scenario, that player is former General Petraeus, who is now a recently resigned CIA director and scandal target.

Back in 2011, though, he was a contender who FOX tried to woo – tried to put a bug in his ear that he should run for president. And Petraeus is promised that FOX can make it all work: Rupert Murdoch can bankroll a presidential campaign for Petraeus if he runs and Roger Ailes, the director of FOX News, can leave FOX and come to work for Petraeus’ campaign. Those are the sort of gifts that come with strings attacked.

Petraeus never takes the bait. He says laughingly, “It’s never gonna happen.” But after much cajoling by McDonald, he agrees to see the “brilliant” Ailes and Murdoch when he’s in New York next.

How perfectly disturbing for the country that a then top general and soon to be CIA director so chummily palled with media moguls that are and were intent on destroying the Obama administration.

How disturbing for the rank and file Republican to learn that their party isn’t just promoted by FOX, it’s owned by FOX – assuming that the rank and file Republican gets this information.

From Woodward’s own reporting:

So in spring 2011, Ailes asked a Fox News analyst headed to Afghanistan to pass on his thoughts to Petraeus, who was then the commander of U.S. and coalition forces there. Petraeus, Ailes advised, should turn down an expected offer from President Obama to become CIA director and accept nothing less than the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military post. If Obama did not offer the Joint Chiefs post, Petraeus should resign from the military and run for president, Ailes suggested.

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 also said that Ailes — who had a decades-long career as a Republican political consultant, advising Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush — might resign as head of Fox to run a Petraeus presidential campaign. At one point, McFarland and Petraeus spoke about the possibility that Rupert Murdoch, the head of News Corp., which owns Fox News, would “bankroll” the campaign.

“Rupert’s after me as well,” Petraeus told McFarland.

Ailes has confirmed that he did give Kathleen McFarland advice to deliver to Petraeus, but he said he was joking and if McFarland took it too far, that is her fault.

I doubt anybody will believe that lame excuse.

A couple of interesting highlights from the conversation:
Editorializing against Obama’s wars too much.
After McCarland asks Petraeus if he wants FOX to do anything differently, he says actually that it seems that in the course of going after Obama, that FOX is criticizing Obama’s wars too harshly.

He tells McFarland he once observed an editor insert a political element in an otherwise factual newspaper story – implying that FOX is doing that to stories on Obama’s foreign policy and America’s wars. McFarland replies no, that it’s more a product of anchors being influenced by the Tea Party than anything else.

She starts out by recalling a Republican split during the Reagain administration: “You had fiscal conservatives and foreign policy conservatives united. And everybody was happy with that plan. And then 2 years into the Reagan defense build up, when there were questions about “Do you choose?” .. Bob Cast and a bunch of guys – The fiscal conservatives – they broke off. And they said “Defense is not excempt”. So that is what you’re seeing right now in the Republican Party. And I don’t know that it’s a Obama reflection as much as it’s a Tea Party … So I think that’s what you’re seeing and you’re certainly seeing it with Bill O’Reilly…with some of the anchors. They’re becoming very skeptical… I don’t think it’s an editorial policy.”

Less defense spending means more covert activity.
Petraeus is positive that even if there are cuts in the defense budget – as both he and McFarland seem to agree there will be (Petraeus: “It’ll be sort of an early 1990′s sort of thing”)- there will be a huge amount of growth in covert intelligence gathering. He says if there’s going to be authentic peace-making a la Jimmy Carter, then he will quit altogether.

Q: Okay. The big boss is bankrolling it. Roger’s going to run it. And the rest of us are going to be your in-house.

Petraeus: Yeah, right. Okay.

Q: We’re all set. . . .

Petraeus: It’s never going to happen. You know it’s never going to happen. It really isn’t.

Q: I know it’s never going to happen.

Petraeus: My wife would divorce me.

Q: Right.

Petraeus: And I love my wife.

Q: Tell her it’s a beautiful house.
I highly encourage you to read the transcript in full or listen to the audio.

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