McFarland: Fox Offer to Petraeus Was a Joke

Wednesday, 05 Dec 2012 10:10 AM

By Martin Gould

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Media reports of Fox News’ offer to bankroll a presidential bid by Gen. David Petraeus are “silly and offbase,” according to K.T. McFarland, the network analyst who floated the idea with the then head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

“A conversation that began in jest and that led to a passing comment at the end of my interview with General David Petraeus has turned into a firestorm of speculation and an attempt to denigrate Fox,” said the former White House aide.

And she said reporting of her conversation with Petraeus has “taught me more about the media than all my years working for Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan, or contributing to Fox News.”

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that McFarland was ordered by Fox News founder Roger Ailes to tell Petraeus that the network would back him in a run for the GOP nomination for the White House, if President Barack Obama did not offer him the job as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

But McFarland said the whole thing was a joke, thrown in at the end of her interview with Petraeus in Kabul.

“My comment was prompted by a conversation I had had with Roger before leaving for Afghanistan,” wrote McFarland on the Fox News website.

“We discussed many topics, most involving national security. On my way out, I casually told him, I’ll give the general your regards, shall I? Roger smiled and replied something to the effect of, tell him if they don’t make him chairman of the joint chiefs, he ought to jump into the presidential race to stir things up.

“I know now that Roger was joking, but at the time, I wasn’t sure,” McFarland wrote.

“Petraeus and I were having fun. Having just told me definitively that he wouldn’t run, he suggested that maybe Ailes could run this non-existent campaign. It was not a serious conversation plotting General Petraeus’ political future; it was the kind of idle speculation that happens in every campaign season. That’s why they call it the silly season.”

Petraeus was not offered the joint chiefs job, but instead was appointed head of the CIA. He resigned last month after details of his affair with his biographer were discovered by the FBI.

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