Writing for the magazine’s Danger Room blog, Mr. Ackerman wrestled with a blunt and brave notion: “How I was drawn into the cult of David Petraeus.”
Petraeus understood how access could help soften the media's rough edges. The general routinely invited reporters for morning jogs, giving them a sense of being part of the action. “It’s embarrassing to remember that that felt pretty good,” Ackerman recalls.
Vernon Loeb – the Washington Post reporter who ghost-wrote Ms. Broadwell’s book, “The Education of David Petraeus” – also partook in runs with the general.
“The commander of the war in Afghanistan and I ran side by side, talking about great world events,” Mr. Loeb recalls in a post-scandal piece. “I could scarcely believe I was getting this kind of access.”
Loeb was also embedded with the 101st Airborne Division when it was under the general’s command in 2003. “Petraeus granted me unfettered access to his command headquarters,” he writes, adding that he “found the general – and what he’d accomplished – impressive and inspiring.”
Some of the criticism, like Ackerman’s, is self-reflective. Other reporters point with some anger to the “media-military industrial complex,” in which reporters become fellows at defense industry-backed think tanks, sharing office space “with retired generals whom they’d regularly quote in their stories,” notes Michael Hastings (who wrote the Rolling Stone article that led to Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as the commander of US forces in Afghanistan), in a blog for Buzzfeed.