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Petraeus: But I sensed, actually. . . . She asked is there something that Fox can do better?
Q: Fox — yeah. This is a direct from my boss to . . .
Petraeus: I mean, we discussed this actually with [Fox anchor] Bret [Baier], and you may want to spend a little more time on it with her.
Q: I can tell you, though, that politically — and Fox represents, I guess they love to say they get a map of the United States, and they cover the East Coast, they cover the West Coast and say, our audience is in the middle. There, I think there is a split, which I certainly saw in the Reagan administration, where you come in. . . . When Reagan came in as a conservative, where he had fiscal conservatives and foreign-policy conservatives united.
Q: And everybody was happy with that plan. And then two years into the Reagan defense buildup, when there were questions about, do you choose? Do you have to choose balanced budget or defense buildup? The fiscal conservatives . . . and a bunch of guys in the Senate . . .
Petraeus: Yeah. Yeah.
Q: They broke off. And they said, well, defense is not exempt.
Petraeus: You bet.
Q: And I think so that’s what you’re seeing now in the Republican Party. And I don’t know that it’s an Obama reflection as much as it’s a tea party . . .
Petraeus: Yeah, there’s some of that.
Q: Is that their sense, that the most important thing America can do — and they always quote Hillary and they always quote Admiral Mullen saying, the most important national security interest is the American economy. Therefore . . . and so I think that’s what you’re seeing. And you’re certainly seeing it with Bill O’Reilly.
Q: And you’re seeing it with some of the other anchors, where they’re becoming very skeptical. Like Shepard Smith is saying: Oh, right, we’ve heard that before.
Q: I think that’s it. But I don’t think it’s an editorial policy.
Petraeus: Yeah, okay.
Q: And it’s a very pro-military — it remains . . .
Petraeus: It is. I mean, Bill O’Reilly has been one of the. . . . He stuck . . . you know that old saying that — actually I say it also about the Three Amigos, [Sens. John] McCain, [Joseph] Lieberman and Lindsey Graham.
Q: Yeah, yeah, and Lindsey Graham, yeah.
Petraeus: 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. And so did Bill O’Reilly, actually. But again, I do sense there is a little — it is. You can sense a skepticism.
Q: It is a skepticism. It’s a cynical skepticism.
Petraeus: But skepticism is informing the reporting, to a slight degree. Or the way it’s being reported. And I guess that’s the concern that I have. That it could sort of unduly undermine — Bret got it right, I think, when he was out here, certainly. Again, judge for yourself. You’re going to get out and see stuff for yourself, and you’ll see how it’s different from two years ago. I mean, the fact is that two years ago . . .