December 5, 2012

Roger Ailes

That Bob Woodward report about how Fox News chief Roger Ailes sent network national security analyst K.T. McFarland to Afghanistan to recruit Gen. David Petraeus to run for president? Overblown. A “firestorm of speculation and an attempt to denigrate Fox.” An example of “silly season.” That, at least, is the opinion of McFarland herself, who has a far more casual take on the situation.

Here’s more of the rebuttal, in McFarland’s own words:

As we were finishing the interview I told General Petraeus my boss, Roger Ailes, was a great admirer. General Petraeus, who knows Roger, interrupted to say, basically, Roger is a brilliant guy. He knows I’m not running for anything.
My comment was prompted by a conversation I had had with Roger before leaving for Afghanistan. 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.

Boiled down to its flimsy core, the argument here seems to date back to middle school: It was all a joke.

Just listen to the audiotape of the conversation, though. In the give-and-take, McFarland comes off as being very earnest about her job as emissary from Ailes to Petraeus. She repeatedly circles back to the rules of engagement, the secrecy of the message-relaying and so on. It doesn’t sound like a jocular mission.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.