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A Tale of Two Rules

Updated on December 4, 2012

General Petraeus

Unbiased Journalism?
Unbiased Journalism? | Source


There was a lot in the media lately about General Petraeus.

The General was thought to be a great military man, having what many think, to have done a good job as leader of the Western alliance forces in Afghanistan.

On retiring from the military General Petraeus was made head of the CIA.

At the time this was probably a good choice.

None of this though is the reason as to why he, of late, has been so news worthy.

What made the news was that he had resigned, sighting the fact that he had had an affair.

The news media were then discussing as to whether he had made the right choice to resign. Some said that he should not have resigned as he was too good a man. Others said that he had no choice because he was an honorable man.


Whilst the General was serving in the military, he knew that to have an affair was illegal. There are those that say though, there is no such rule in the CIA and so it was only because of honor that he resigned.

What seems to have been lost by the media though, is as to why it is an offense to have an affair whilst serving in the military.

It may come as a surprise to many but it is not for ethical reasons.

The reason is that having an affair opens you up to the possibility of blackmail.

If somebody is having an affair, they may be blackmailed with threats of telling their spouse or their superiors. The payment the blackmailer wants is not money but information.

Therefore to be having an affair, you are considered to have become a security risk and probably susceptible to similar status in the future.

Now given that this is the reason for it being an offense in the military, it seems unbelievable that it is not an offense in the CIA, one of the most secretive organizations in the world.


The media then say, well at least he did the honorable thing. Did he?

The honorable thing would have to resigned at the outset of the affair, not wait until he realized that he had been caught, was under investigation and had no way of stopping the incident from going “public”.

At least that way there would have been no question as to whether his intelligence investigation on the Libyan Embassy killings was compromised; he would not have leaded it.

The media also say: a good man should not be punished for one mistake.

Where is the media’s pity for the poor enlisted man?

Under General Petraeus command, many low ranking soldiers would have been dishonorably discharged for having an affair. They would not have received any pensions or other benefits for their otherwise brave service. Instead of pity, the media would say that these deprived men and women could have put thousands of lives at stake and deserve what they got – nothing.

I do not here wish to take anything from General Petraeus’s brave and good service in the military, in which he served honorably and deserves his benefits.

However, why is it that a supposedly unbiased media have two standards: One for those with power and influence and one for those with out?

Perhaps in this case we should not be surprised considering that according to the Huffington Post, both the head of Fox News, Roger Ailes and the media mogul Rupert Murdock tried to coax and fund Petraeus into being a Presidential candidate.


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    • Irish Shrew profile image

      Ro 5 years ago from Midwest

      I think your have some valid points. You know, I find, it's not just with the military do all media have some bias reporting. If you listen to a lot of the media- they have great sympathy when celebrities crash their cars,lie to the police, and enter rehab. Poor celebrity, lost soul. If you and I decided to go out on a binge, hurt someone, or God forbid- kill someone; we are toast. My personal opinion with Petraeus does not fall in the plight of any conspiracy theory but rather, a belief that a stoic, dedicated, and notable soldier did a really dumb thing that the CIA had to investigate. You had a woman who was not only shadowing, but having an affair with the man, while admitting she had taken top secret documents. I frankly think, due to the General's make-up (for the most part) decided he had weakened, had committed a nefarious act, with no other recourse BUT to resign. In retrospect, you have to admire the man for reacting as a soldier; he made an oath the day he signed up-he violated that oath, and became his own enforcer.

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 5 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      I believe their is more to this story than the public knows, it was a power struggle between to conflicting points of view.

      Obama waited until after he had regained power to remove Petraeus as the affair was known about for sometime and perhaps even arranged for the specific purpose of removing the CIA Head from power.

      Petraeus hoped to make Obama look bad over the Libya affair, hoping Romney would win.