Bob Woodward has learned that Roger Ailes tried to lure David Petraeus into the 2012 presidential race. Woodward has the offer on tape, so Ailes can't deny it, but Ailes is claiming it was a joke:
... in spring 2011, Ailes asked a Fox News analyst headed to Afghanistan to pass on his thoughts to Petraeus.... 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.But we know that Ailes thinks it is his job. Gabriel Sherman wrote about this in May 2011, specifically noting Ailes's interest in Petraeus, although not the recruitment. Sherman's point, however, was that Ailes was using Fox to shape the presidential field (though he knew even then that that wasn't working out very well):
The Fox News chairman’s message was delivered to Petraeus by Kathleen T. McFarland, a Fox News national security analyst....
McFarland also said that Ailes ... might resign as head of Fox to run a Petraeus presidential campaign. At one point, McFarland and Petraeus spoke about the possibility that Rupert Murdoch, the head of News Corp., which owns Fox News, would "bankroll" the campaign....
In a telephone interview Monday, the wily and sharp-tongued Ailes said he did indeed ask McFarland to make the pitch to Petraeus. "It was more of a joke, a wiseass way I have," he said. "I thought the Republican field [in the primaries] needed to be shaken up and Petraeus might be a good candidate."
Ailes added, ". . . It's someone's fantasy to make me a kingmaker. It's not my job."
Ailes is..., in a sense, the head of the Republican Party, having employed five prospective presidential candidates....And we know that after Christie toured New Jersey with President Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, he tried to mend fences with the GOP by calling Godfather Rupert Murdoch.
So it must have been disturbing to Ailes when the wheels started to come off Fox's presidential-circus caravan.... with an actual presidential election on the horizon, the Fox candidates' poll numbers remain dismally low (Sarah Palin is polling 12 percent; Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, 10 percent and 2 percent, respectively).... A few months ago, Ailes called Chris Christie and encouraged him to jump into the race.... Ailes had also hoped that David Petraeus would run for president, but Petraeus too has decided to sit this election out....
"You can't run for the Republican nomination without talking to Roger," one GOPer told me. "Every single candidate has consulted with Roger."
Fox runs the GOP as much as anyone does. Every candidate this year except Huntsman and Paul set out to run a Fox campaign (and you see the result). This will be true for the foreseeable future.