A Peek Inside The Smoke-Filled Room

If you haven’t heard Kathleen McFarland’s conversation last year with Gen. Petraeus, you simply must. I’m serious, stop what you’re doing and give it a listen.

Here’s the Clif’s Notes edition: a recording of a conversation last year between Fox News national security analyst Kathleen T. McFarland and Gen. Petraeus has surfaced. In it, McFarland passes on an important message to Petraeus from NewsCorp Chairman Rupert Murdoch and Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes: run, Petraeus, run! Run for the Republican nomination for president! Ailes would quit Fox to be his campaign manager, Murdoch would bankroll the campaign, and everyone at Fox News would be his campaign’s “in house.”

I suggest you listen to the recording or read the transcript. It’s pretty amazing stuff.

My jaw first dropped to the floor when I heard this (the “him” is Roger Ailes):

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?

Isn’t that cozy! Please, Gen. Petraeus, tell us what you love and hate about our news coverage so we can fix it! The true hallmark of an impartial journalist is when he or she asks a powerful person they cover whether the network needs to change how it reports the news. /sarcasm

Hilariously, Petraeus then indicated he’d noticed a decided anti-war shift in Fox’s news coverage, which he understood completely because of course the network needs to remain anti-Obama, and it’s Obama’s war now. But still … careful, now!

Keep in mind, we’re only about 20 seconds into the recording.

There’s a lot of hilarity in here. I loved when Petraeus used the term “the Three Amigos” for John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham. I just about died. And then there’s the strategizing about 2016 — five years away, and they want Petraeus to run because the scuttlebut is that he’s the only serious threat to Obama’s re-election in 2012 and a Democratic win in 2016. If the Dems win in 2016, the Republicans wouldn’t be able to undo everything Obama had done, see. Makes all of that “one-term president” stuff seem so much more urgent, doesn’t it?

It’s major crack for a political junkie like me, but I have to keep reminding myself of one important factor: this is a person connected to a cable news network saying this stuff, reportedly passing on information from the owner of that network and the chairman of its news division. This level of political puppetry is just astonishing. Can you imagine Anderson Cooper or Tom Brokaw having this kind of a conversation? I certainly can’t imagine a legitimate so-called liberal media outlet doing this:

Q: I know Roger, he’s done okay, but . . . no, I think the one who’s bankrolling it is the big boss.

Petraeus: That might be it.

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. . . .

Look at how Republican presidential candidates are made. Lots of sausage. Rupert bankrolling it. And Fox News as the candidate’s “in-house.” And that means Fox News’ advertisers are paying for it.

The WaPo buried the lede. The news wasn’t that Fox News tried to get Gen. Petraeus to run. It’s that they were going to bankroll it, and a supposedly impartial news outlet was going to be the candidates’ propaganda outfit. Didn’t author Tom Ricks just get slammed for having the audacity to call Fox News “an arm of the Republican Party”? Indeed.

You know what I find interesting? That Eric Cantor sat on that info he had about the General’s affair before the election. Maybe this is why. Knowing how tight Republican politicians are wtih Fox News, I wonder if a NewsCorp muckety-muck told Cantor to make that information go away because Petraeus was the GOP’s big hope for 2016. And then that big ol’ dope of an FBI agent wouldn’t shut his trap. Man, this is a Steven Soderbergh movie if I ever saw one.

Now, I know what y’all are going to say. You’re going to yawn and tell me, “Fox News is a partisan propaganda organ for the RNC? What next, water is wet?” Sure but that’s not the point. Of course we DFH lefty types have known this for years. What I find fascinating is that other people are saying it. It’s like they’re tired of the bullshit or something.

After the Ricks incident, Eric Boehlert wrote:

What’s telling is that Ricks’ claim about Fox operating as a wing of the Republican Party barely caused a media stir. While the comments have been widely covered, no one in the press is leaping to defend the channel or criticize Ricks. Even conservative bloggers and pundits haven’t really bothered to push back on Ricks’ central claim that the top-rated cable “news” channel works in tandem with a political party.

That’s what I noticed, too. But I want it to cause a media stir, I really do. I want the AARP to know that when they advertise on Fox News they’re giving money to an as-yet unnamed Republican Party candidate who will probably run against everything they stand for. And I want the rest of the media to give up the pretense that what they do is in any way the same as what Fox News people do.

I’ve often wondered why the legitimate news media tolerated Fox; after all, if you’re a doctor and you’ve got a bunch of quacks sullying the reputation of your profession, wouldn’t you speak out? I just didn’t understand why, say, White House pool reporters tolerated the Fox press release pushers in their midst. Some even came to their defense (*cough*cough*JAKE TAPPER*cough*cough). And I find it really strange that all of this is coming out now, just after an election in which everyone seemed to agree that Republicans lost because they live in a Fox News-created information vacuum.

Verrrry interesting.

11 thoughts on “A Peek Inside The Smoke-Filled Room

  1. megaworthit says:

    Everybody knows about it, anyway. By the way, Is Rupert Murdock an American citizen?

  2. Yes Murdoch got naturalized a few years ago. He did it before he bought the NY Daily News I think?? The law doesn’t allow non-citizens to own TV AND print media in the same market. So that’s why he did it.

  3. MichaelF says:

    Guess it’s time to change Faux’s tagline from Fair & Balanced to All In.

  4. Aaaargh says:

    Not to mention that he’s actively being treacherous to the President who appointed him. It’s Obama’s war now so it’s OK for you to be antiwar now? WTF? Although TBH I assume that Geithner says the same kind of crap to his cronies about how he’s working to bring Obama down.
    Obama took entirely the wrong message from Team of Rivals.

  5. MapleStreet says:

    But now Petraeus is running the Obama draw down and providing information to the likes of Rice.
    My head is spinning from the love and hate shifting sides.

  6. montag says:

    Hmm. Was Petraeus in uniform, or on duty, when this conversation took place?
    Mighty interesting, Petraeus playing James Mattoon Scott to Roger Ailes’ Harold McPherson…

  7. Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog says:

    ” I just didn’t understand why, say, White House pool reporters tolerated the Fox press release pushers in their midst. ”

  8. democommie says:

    Apparently the people calling him, “General BetrayUs” were onto something.
    If Petraeus was in uniform when he did this it would amoung to dereliction of duty at the least and possibly sedition. I doubt that Petraeus was THAT stupid. Then again, I’ve seen a lot of shit done by people that I thought were too smart to act that stupid.
    But some dem did it too, right? RIGHT??

  9. WtW says:

    It’s interesting that he’s known by the interviewer to be enough of a Fox News watcher to be a critic –he’s got time for that?! Plus a chick on the side?
    Everyone’s a propagandist first now.

  10. Yeah Ghost of Joe — I never understood why they let that slide, either. No one minded Jeff Gannon being a conservative shill until his porno pictures went public. I find that weird.

  11. Flying Junior says:

    I remember when Admiral Fallon became a folk hero to the anti-war hippies for his documented tirade calling Petraeus an “ass-kissing, little chicken-shit!”

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