Fox News president reportedly tried to get Petraeus to run for president

“It’s never going to happen,” Petraeus says in an audio recording

By Jillian Rayfield
December 4, 2012 7:02PM (UTC)
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The Washington Post reports that Roger Ailes, the founder and current chairman of Fox News, tried and failed to get former CIA Director David Petraeus to run for president.

The Post obtained audio of a 90-minute conversation from the spring of 2011 between Petraeus, then commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, and Kathleen T. McFarland, a Fox News national security analyst and former Pentagon aide.


During the course of the conversation, McFarland says that she's there on behalf of Ailes, who suggests that Petraeus should not accept a position as CIA director, which President Obama was expected to offer him soon after. McFarland said: The “advice to you from Roger Ailes is ... He says that if you’re offered [JCS] chairman, take it. If you’re offered anything else, don’t take it; resign in six months and run for president.”

The Post summarizes the conversation:

McFarland also said that Ailes — who had a decades-long career as a Republican political consultant, advising Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush — might resign as head of Fox to run a Petraeus presidential campaign. At one point, McFarland and Petraeus spoke about the possibility that Rupert Murdoch, the head of News Corp., which owns Fox News, would “bankroll” the campaign.

“It’s never going to happen,” Petraeus says of running in the audio. “You know it’s never going to happen. It really isn’t."


“My wife would divorce me,” he continues. “And I love my wife ... We have a beautiful house."

Several months later, Petraeus accepted a position as CIA director, only to step down this past November amid revelations that he had an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

Ailes dismissed the conversation to the Post. "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.” He 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.”


You can listen to the full audio here.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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2012 Elections David Petraeus Fox News Republicans Roger Ailes