Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Bob Woodward writes in The Washington Post today, Dec. 4, 2012, "[I]n spring 2011, [Fox News Chairman Roger] Ailes asked a Fox News analyst headed to Afghanistan to pass on his thoughts to [Gen. David] 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."
Woodward continues, "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."
At one point near the end of the close to 14-minute recording McFarland says, "The big boss is bankrolling it. Roger’s going to run it. And the rest of us are going to be your in-house." The "big boss" she is referring to is Ailes’ boss, News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch.
Woodward also writes, "In a telephone interview Monday [Dec. 3, 2012], the wily and sharp-tongued Ailes said he did indeed ask McFarland to make the pitch to Petraeus. ‘It was more of a joke, a wiseass way I have,’ he said. ‘I thought the Republican field [in the primaries] needed to be shaken up and Petraeus might be a good candidate.’
"Ailes added, ‘It sounds like she thought she was on a secret mission in the Reagan administration. . . . She was way out of line. . . . It’s someone’s fantasy to make me a kingmaker. It’s not my job.’ He said that McFarland was not an employee of Fox but a contributor paid less than $75,000 a year.
"Petraeus, Murdoch and McFarland did not respond to calls and messages requesting comment."