On April 16, 2011, Fox News contributor Kathleen T. McFarland met with Gen. David H. Petraeus, who was then head of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Below is an edited transcript of a portion of the conversation in which the two discuss Petraeus’s future, his views of the news media and his reaction to the suggestion by Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes that he run for president.
Transcript: Kathleen T. McFarland talks with Gen. David H. Petraeus
McFarland: I’ve got something to say to you, by the way, directly from Roger Ailes.
Petraeus: Oh, at . . . with no one else in the room? I hope?
Q: Well, you know. . . . You guys have ears? Or your ears are dead? No. Okay. Here’s the . . . what I told Roger . . .
Petraeus: I’m not running. [Laughs]
Q: Okay. But I’m going to tell you that Roger Ailes — and I told him I was coming . . .
Petraeus: I love Roger.
Q: I know. And he loves you, and everybody at Fox loves you. 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?
Petraeus: You know, actually, ask Bret Baier about this, because I actually did say that I thought that. . . . I actually thought, in a sense, sort of the editorial policy of Fox had shifted. Now, that . . .
Q: On the online, or on the news channel?
Petraeus: Well, I only watch the — you know, the. . . . But I mean, it’s your stories that are online here. But 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, actually. And I told that to Bret when he was out here. That — again, some of it was headlines, but they . . .
Q: Well, headlines is easy to fix, because the lady who does that is the desk next to mine, if you . . .
Petraeus: Well, my honest sense was that — you know, I mean, papers and news outlets have editorial policies.
Q: Yeah, of course they do.
Petraeus: They know sort of how their bosses feel about things.
Q: Of course they do.
Petraeus: And it causes a certain shading.
Petraeus: And with respect, for example. . . . I mean, again, off the record, the New York Times was never going to give Bush or Iraq a break, I don’t care what happened.
Q: No. No. He could come up with the cure for cancer, and he’s still . . .
Petraeus: They could never. . . . It just was never going to happen. I remember, in fact, one time [New York Times reporter] Thom Shanker, who I think very highly of, wrote a piece. And it was on me, before I was going to testify one time, and they had — a pretty good piece, I mean, factual, in other words. Again, all we want is the truth. We’re not out to spin. But then it had this sort of really odd thing inserted in it. And it was something that had been proven unfounded, but it sort of bounced around on the MoveOn.org kind of Webs. And I said, Thom, where did that come from? He said, oh, that was added by the editors. So again, you . . .