Politics

12.04.12

Ailes and Petraeus

Bob Woodward's scoop today about Roger Ailes's overture to David Petraeus is well worth your time. 

If you haven’t yet read it: Ailes, through a Fox “reporter” (who once ran against Hillary Clinton for Senate), suggested to Petraeus that he resign from the Army, accept a potential position as head of the joint chiefs but turn down any other job, such as the one he was offered at CIA; then, having left government, run for president as a Republican, with Ailes running his campaign and Murdoch potentially bankrolling it (though there’s no evidence that Murdoch knew about any of this).

Woodward got a digital recording of the Kabul chat between Petraeus and Fox’s Kit McFarland:

 “Tell him if I ever ran,” Petraeus said, and then laughed, “but I won’t . . . but if I ever ran, I’d take him up on his offer. . . . He said he would quit Fox . . . and bankroll it.”

“Bankroll it?” asked McFarland, who served as a senior aide to Henry Kissinger and later as a Pentagon spokeswoman in the Reagan administration.

“Or maybe I’m confusing that with Rupert,” Petraeus said.

“I know Roger, he’s done okay,” McFarland replied, “but . . . no, I think the one who’s bankrolling it is the big boss.”

“That might be it,” Petraeus said.

“Okay,” McFarland said, “the big boss is bankrolling it. Roger’s going to run it. And the rest of us are going to be your in-house.”

“Yeah, right, okay,“ Petraeus said.

“We’re all set.”

“It’s never going to happen,” Petraeus said. “You know it’s never going to happen. It really isn’t.

“My wife would divorce me,” he added. “And I love my wife. . . . We have a beautiful house.” Both Petraeus and McFarland laughed. “With his-and-hers bathrooms, believe it or not. I just want to live in it. I’ve never spent a night in it.” 

Well, that last graf is pretty rich, given what we now know. Guess he still won’t be living in it. But let’s stick to Fox here. “The rest of us are going to be your in-house.”

Let’s imagine that John McCain were president, and Phil Griffin, the head of MSNBC, directed Chris Jansing or someone to go to Colin Powell with such an offer. The right would ensure that this would become a huge scandal. Some scalps would be demanded and probably received.

But with respect to Fox, standards and expectations are so low that it’s just another “Well, that’s Fox for you” story. Anyway this would never happen at MSNBC, which is obviously liberal in outlook but is not an arm of the Democratic Party in remotely the way Fox is an arm of the GOP. There’s a difference between having clear ideological leanings and being a propaganda machine. And so Fox will roll on unscathed. The only solace for the rest of us is that we increasingly know they’re just talking to themselves, their rhetorical onanism no longer having any impact on the real world.