Fox News chief Roger Ailes last year encouraged U.S. Gen. David Petraeus to turn down the CIA and instead run for president, The Washington Post reported.
In the spring of 2011 Ailes directed Afghanistan-bound Fox News analyst Kathleen T. McFarland to relay his idea to Petraeus, who was commanding U.S. and coalition forces there. Ailes suggested Petraeus seek to become U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and, barring that, to run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, the Post reported Monday.
The Post said it obtained a 90-minute recording of an "unfiltered conversation" between McFarland and Petraeus in his Kabul office in which they discussed his potential political ambitions.
In the recording, McFarland suggests Ailes could step down from his Fox News position to run Petraeus' presidential campaign and also said News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch could possibly "bankroll" the effort.
"Rupert's after me as well," Petraeus told McFarland in the recording.
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."
Petraeus told McFarland he would consider running the CIA if Obama asked him. He was sworn in as CIA director Sept. 6, 2011, and resigned Nov. 9, 2012, after his extramarital affair with his biographer became public.
In a Monday phone interview with the Post, Ailes downplayed the recording, saying: "It was more of a joke, a wiseass way I have. I thought the Republican field [in the primaries] needed to be shaken up and Petraeus might be a good candidate.
"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."
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