David Petraeus' Affair Scandal

David Petraeus' Affair Scandal

Updated Dec 11, 2012 at 11:02PM EST by Brad.

Added Nov 12, 2012 at 02:29PM EST by FunkPumpkin.

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David Petraeus’ Affair refers to an extramarital affair between former CIA Director David Petraeus and biographer Paula Broadwall that occurred from late 2011 to the summer of 2012. The affair became public after Petraeus resigned in November of 2012.


According to the Washington Post,[1] Petraeus initially met Broadwell while she was writing her dissertation at Harvard University and became a frequent visitor when he became head of the United States Central Command. In 2010, Broadwell turned her dissertation into a biography of Petraeus and began visiting the general for longer periods of time. According to Petraeus’ former executive officer Peter Mansoor, the affair did not begin until after Petraeus left the military to become the Director of the CIA in mid-2011.

In the summer of 2012, Petraeus family friend Jill Kelley began receiving harassing emails warning her to end her advances toward the CIA director. After Kelley complained to a friend who worked as an FBI agent about the emails, the bureau launched an investigation examining Broadwell’s email account, discovering a series of intimate email messages between Petraeus and his biographer. According to Mansoor, Petraeus ended the affair after Kelley informed him that Broadwell had sent her threatening messages. According to Fox News,[2] Attorney General Eric Holder was informed by the FBI about the affair in the late summer, but Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper was not notified until November 6th, who immediately asked Petraeus to resign. Two days later, Petraeus offered President Barack Obama his resignation.

Notable Developments

Media Coverage

On November 9th, Petraeus’ affair and resignation were reported by various news web sites, including CBS,[5]CNN,[6] the LA Times,[7] New York Times,[8] The Huffington Post[9] and NPR.[10] On November 12th, 700 Club televangelist Pat Robertson seemed to defend Petraeus, stating since Broadwell was a man, it would be difficult for him to turn down an “extremely good looking woman” like Broadwell (shown below, left). A YouTube clip of Robertson was subsequently reblogged on the political blog Right Wing Watch[3] and Gawker.[4] The same day, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart apologized to his audience for failing to identify the Petraeus affair during an interview with Broadwell while the relationship was taking place (shown below, right).

On November 13th, The Huffington Post[12] and Mashable[13] published articles about Petraeus and Broadwell’s use of Gmail to hide their communications, which involved savind messages into a Gmail drafts folder rather than sending them to another email address. The same day, Gawker[11] published a flowchart of the events surrounding the Petraeus affair (shown below).

Online Reaction

On November 9th, Redditor Remtheta submitted a post about Petraeus resignation to the /r/politics[15] subreddit, receiving over 1,260 up votes and 530 comments within the next four days. The following day, Redditor Libertatea submitted a post titled “An interesting letter sent to the NY Times, which may or may not relate to Petraeus affair,”[17] which cited a letter to New York Times[18] writer Chuck Klosterman claiming his wife was having an affair with a government executive. On November 12th, reporter ECNC Dianne Gallagher began live tweeting photos and details of FBI agents searching Paula Broadwell’s home.

The same day, the satirical news site The Onion[20] published an article titled “BuzzFeed Editors Unsure How to Spin Petraeus Story Into Reason The ’90s Were Great.” On November 13th, BuzzFeed published a post in response by staff writer Ryan Broderick titled “5 Pictures Poriving David Petraeus Should Have Been on ‘Saved By the Bell’”, which featured several photoshopped images of screen captures from the 1990s television show Saved By the Bell with Petraeus’ faced edited over characters from the sitcom (shown below).

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