Did Roger Ailes really try to convince David Petraeus to run for president in April 2011? Just how close was the general with the conservative network? Well, you can now judge for yourself, because the Washington Post has published the full transcript of the call Bob Woodward obtained between Petraeus and Fox contributor Kathleen McFarland. Here are our favorite tidbits:
- Before McFarland can get an actual question out, Petraeus preempts her with, "I'm not running." Though he quickly adds, "I love Roger," meaning Ailes.
- McFarland asks Petraeus if there's anything "right or wrong, that you want to tell us to do differently?" Petraeus replies with a carefully phrased complaint about Fox's "editorial policy." "It just struck me that it was almost as if, because they're going after Obama, they had to go after Obama's war as well."
- On John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham: "Grant used to say, yeah, there’s old Sherman. I stood by him while he was crazy, and he stood by me while I was drunk. And every time I see McCain, I think about that. [Laughter] Because they stood by me when I was crazy."
- McFarland says Ailes' advice to Petraeus is to only accept a job as "chairman," presumably of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "If you're offered anything else, don't take it, resign in six months and run for president. Okay? And I know you're not running for president. But at some point when you go to New York next, you may want to just chat with Roger. And Rupert Murdoch, for that matter."
- Petraeus replies that he still wants to serve his country, but only in "a quite significantly meaningful position. And there's all of about two of those in the world. You all have really got to shut your mouths."
- McFarland keeps leaning on Petraeus, saying Democrats are terrified he'll run. "They look at you and they think, how can we keep him quiet? … We'll put him at the CIA." At the time, McFarland stressed that the CIA idea was just "gossip."
- Petraeus says he viewed a position in the CIA as a chance to "make a huge difference" in Libya.
- "I think that organization is full of just, heroes," Petraeus says of the CIA. He also says he thinks the intelligence community is going to be "a growth industry."
- Finally, Petraeus agrees to visit with Ailes. "Tell him if I ever ran—but I won't—but if I ever ran, I'd take him up on his offer." But then he adds, "It's never going to happen. … My wife would divorce me. And I love my wife."