In spring 2011, Ailes asked a Fox News analyst going to Afghanistan to interview Petraeus to pass on his thoughts to the then-commander of U.S. and coalition forces. Petraeus, Ailes advised, as Washington Post notes
, "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."
McFarland did indeed share Ailes' suggestions at the end of her 90-minute, unfiltered conversation to Petraeus. The Post got a transcript of the interview, which also included Petraeus saying, “Rupert’s after me as well,” referring to News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch
, owner of Fox News.
It is apparent Petraeus didn't listen to Ailes after all. He was confirmed and sworn in as director on Sept. 6, 2011. As it's been reported on Digital Journal
, he resigned in November, after the disclosure of an extramarital affair with his biographer.
In an interview
, Ailes downplayed the incident, saying he did indeed ask McFarland to make the pitch to Petraeus but “It was more of a joke, a wiseass way I have,” he added. “I thought the Republican field [in the primaries] needed to be shaken up and Petraeus might be a good candidate.”
McFarland has also claimed it was taken too seriously for her liking. She said it was all a joke, saying
, "This is a perfect example of what is happening in American politics."
Also worth noting is how the now-disgraced former CIA director was asked
by McFarland if he had some editorial advice for Fox News. McFarland asked Petraeus whether there is "anything Fox is doing, right or wrong, that you want us to do differently?"
The general replied
, "The editorial policy of Fox had shifted. It was almost as if, because they're going after Obama, they had to go after Obama's war as well," adding that he had discussed the problem with Bret Baier, a primetime anchor on the cable news channel.