There's a piece in the Guardian this morning by Carl Bernstein entitled Why the US media ignored Murdoch's brazen bid to hijack the presidency. It references an incredible article published by the Washington Post. The Post reported that
in spring 2011, Ailes asked a Fox News analyst headed to Afghanistan to pass on his thoughts to Petraeus, who was then the commander of U.S. and coalition forces there. Petraeus, Ailes advised, should turn down an expected offer from President Obama to become CIA director and accept nothing less than the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military post. If Obama did not offer the Joint Chiefs post, Petraeus should resign from the military and run for president, Ailes suggested.Ailes's emissary McFarland not only conveyed this offer but made clear that Fox News would be backing Petraeus should he enter the primary field. Bob Woodward actually has a conversation recording this remarkable offer, on tape.
Bernstein is incensed that the Washington Post buried this in the Style section-- the part of the paper that covers gossip, fashion and celebrities. And the story never got traction in the US. More over the line.
Bernstein recognizes, and I think it's well known in the U.K., that this is a part of the larger seamy story of Rubert Murdoch (Ailes's boss), who has curried political influence on both sides of the Atlantic, while running a media empire that dishes out slanted news and sleazy tabloid reporting (related to which there is the huge scandal involving hacking into celebrities' cell phones). But he also is boggled, as am I, by the story Woodward uncovered: the fact that a media baron offered to tilt the huge resources of Fox News to support not just a particular party, but his chosen candidate within that party. Bernstein:
The tape of Petraeus and McFarland's conversation is an amazing document, a testament to the willingness of Murdoch and the wily genius he hired to create Fox News to run roughshod over the American civic and political landscape without regard to even the traditional niceties or pretenses of journalistic independence and honesty. Like the revelations of the hacking scandal, which established beyond any doubt Murdoch's ability to capture and corrupt the three essential elements of the British civic compact – the press, politicians and police – the Ailes/Petraeus tape makes clear that Murdoch's goals in America have always been just as ambitious, insidious and nefarious.There is also a piece of irony in all this. Petraeus refused, in part, because he said "My wife would divorce me." And maybe the real reason was, he knew a reason besides running for President why his wife might divorce him. But he won't be President, in any case. And maybe even Murdoch's money and power couldn't have made him President. Vast money and an ocean of political advertising didn't get Romney into the White House either. But everyone in the U.S. should be worried that a powerful media network, backed by a foreign corporation, not only thought about but tried to initiate such a direct intervention in American politics.