How I was drawn into the cult of David Petraeus


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The Independent Online

No, biographer Paula Broadwell hasn't done a kiss-and-tell. Instead it's Spencer Ackerman, a war correspondent, who writes in Wired on how he too was caught up in the spell of CIA director David Petraeus.

Ackerman admits to playing a role in the "creation of a legend" around Petraeus. He wrote a sycophantic blog, and was part of a media machine that - impressed by Petraeus' independent thinking and confidence in interviews - heralded the General as a military seer.

When Petraeus shifted away from the principles of counter-insurgency in Afghanistan and started pointing to enemy body counts as indicators of success, few journalists called him on it.

Broadwell was never likely to herself. Her book All In is high on hyperbole. Petraeus, says Broadwell, "left an indelible mark on the next generation of military leaders as a role model of soldier-scholar statesman".

But far from wading into condemn, Ackerman suggests "a lot of us who've covered Petraeus over the years could have written that".

"A lot of the journalism around Petraeus gave him a pass, and I wrote too much of it", he adds.

"Writing critically about a public figure you come to admire is a journalistic challenge."