Video: From the Rolling Stone

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    >>> the hour. reportedly the president is furious according to "the new york times." we're covering the comments in " rolling stone ," magazine. latest issue.

    >> savannah also reported here an hour ago the president was furious.

    >> furious.

    >> i think more than furious.

    >> what's more than furious, joe?

    >> i would be determined that he be fired.

    >> i think we're getting there. not to worry.

    >> so just to update you guys, we saw on a hot note last night that " rolling stone " was moving with a story on friday that stanley mcchrystal had attacked the president of the united states as being ill prepared in a white house meeting calling the meeting with the commander in chief painful and called the head of the national security agency general jim jones a clown or his staff called him a clown who's stuck in 1985 . we can go down the list. attacked just about everybody. richard holbrook . very unkind things to say about holbrook and said the ambassador to afghanistan had betrayed him and basically on a cya mission. this is all explosive news and it comes from " rolling stone ." our friends there for the second week in a row making trouble . last week, the bp story. now with this story that has shook washington, d.c. to its foundation. yesterday, nora o'donnell reported that yesterday general mcchrystal called joe biden apologizing. the head of the joint chiefs , general mullen apologizing. secretary of defense and also apologized to a man his staff called a clown from 1985 , general jones. why don't we introduce him now?

    >> executive editor of " rolling stone ," eric bates and this is certainly making waves . not only apologies flying but an official says the top u.s. commander in afghanistan general stanley mcchrystal is ordered to appear at the white house situation room in person tomorrow. i have a feeling if it doesn't happen before then he will be fired. also with us, history professor at harvard university , neil ferguson , the author of "high financier," the lives and times of sigmund warburg . very interesting day.

    >> exciting day.

    >> yeah. good timing.

    >> " rolling stone " making trouble . you got to tell us the story. how did you get the leading general in afghanistan --

    >> okay. thank you so much. we can take that down now.

    >> okay.

    >> kids -- if you're at home --

    >> inside the magazine.

    >> thank you so much.

    >> wow!

    >> for that cover art . so tell us, mcchrystal. how did you guys get him to tell all?

    >> well, we got a really unprecedented access with him. we spent -- we reported this story over the course of several months. we were with him on a trip in europe that wound up getting extended because of the volcano in iceland so our reporter was kind of trapped with him for about two weeks in paris and traveling from paris to berlin. they had to take a bus. so we really spent a lot of time with him and really got to look behind the curtain, and hear how he and his men, top men, talk among themselves on their own.

    >> you know, i'm looking at -- i mean, there's so many different things to go through. some of this stuff seems like after you -- like the holbrook , e-mail and then put in the blackberry back in the pocket and an aide making a disparaging remark. were there any lines blurred here?

    >> absolutely not. they knew when we were on the record. they said a lot of stuff to us off the record that's not in the story and respected those boundaries.

    >> wow.

    >> this is all when they knew they were on.

    >> wow.

    >> okay.

    >> let's read an excerpt from the piece now. flipping through printout cards of his speech in paris , mcchrystal wonders aloud what biden question he might get today and how should he respond. i never know what will pop out until i'm there. that's the problem. he says, then unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one liner. are you asking about vice president biden , mcchrystal asks with a laugh? who's that? biden ? did you say bite me? huh. that's on the record, huh?

    >> totally on the record. what's most surprising about that, preparing for a speech in paris and near a speech in london asked about joe biden 's counterterrorism act dissing the vice president and say that would result in chaos-istan. here he is again preparing for a question and answer session.

    >> we talked about this by 6:30. by 6:35, 6:40, the wires started popping. the latest across the wires. chris, what do you have? a response from the chairman of the joint chiefs ?

    >> mike mullen , add mirm mike mullen . quote, deep disappointment in the call with general mcchrystal.

    >> mcchrystal had to call everybody yesterday. when did you fact this? just curious about the timing of when they knew this was going to blow up?

    >> fact checking this within the last week and week before.

    >> yeah. so they knew this was coming for some time?

    >> yes.

    >> we saw bob gates this weekend on "face the nation" and commenting yesterday. who said yesterday that it wasn't --

    >> was it --

    >> one of the shakier poirpgss. they had to know that the situation --

    >> jack, jack welch .

    >> jack welch said it was one of his shakier performances. a guy that's always sure of himself. this is emblematic of a bigger problem than afghanistan . the british people , americans, all continuing to have deep concerns about what's become america's longest war .

    >> yeah. it is a very different war from iraq. and so, the idea to have a surge similar to the one that general petraeus made work in iraq is implausible and stanley mcchrystal saw this hard. i'm reminded of mccarthy and macarthur and challenging the president and others in the mrpg administration. it seems that president obama has no choice to do than what president truman did and get ridgeneral.

    >> somebody asked me for a historical parallel. i had to go back to truman and macarthur for such an example. can you think of any?

    >> except that mcchrystal doesn't have the wider popularity that macarthur had. he was a contender for the presidency.

    >> he gave the speech to the --

    >> right.

    >> joint session of congress .

    >> a pretty high octane moment in american political history . this isn't like that. i don't think mcchrystal understands, actually, how the media and democracy play together in this country. it is a different mind-set in the military.

    >> petraeus is a new type of leader. we have heard that. he's politically adept and hires a number two man that eats one meal a day, runs 9 miles a day, sleeps 4 hours a night.

    >> this is mika's existence. does that every day. but one of the most astute generals when it comes to press relations has one of the clumsiest sub ord nants.

    >> he's gone crazy there in afghanistan . we have to call him back if we can.

    >> if we can.

    >> taking shots in this interview and all of the high level members of the administration and his colleagues. and here's what he says. i'll read another excerpt on ambassador eikenberry. he goes on in this article, eric , to say he was disappointed in the first oval office meeting with an unprepared president obama . talking about the national security adviser, jim jones , a clown stuck in 1985 . this is an aide. there's so much back biting going on here but it kind of is unbelievable that it would happen in public in front of a reporter. where do we begin?

    >> where do we end -- i guess you knew this was coming. was your reporter calling you as this story was developing going --

    >> wow.

    >> you are not believing the stuff i'm getting out here.

    >> yes. i heard a lot from our reporter and working on the story and prepared it and fact checked it, it was amazing how much was there. i think you also have to look at what it says about the war strategy. i mean, this shows that the administration itself is deeply divided over this strategy. it has been from the beginning. the strategy came about because mcchrystal pressed it releasing a strategic review, demanding 40,000 more troops and sparked a white house review for three months and it's clear that the diplomatic side and the military side in this war don't see eye to eye and it's very hard to see how we could win any war let alone one as complex and difficult as afghanistan with a divided team.

    >> now, the general must be fired. anybody that understands the chain of command in the united states military knows he has to be fired unless he can come out and say i was misquoted. when you were fact checking this article, did the general or his staff deny any of the quotes? any push back at all on the accuracy of this article?

    >> no. no, i haven't heard that in the course of the story or apology --

    >> wasn't almost famous part two?

    >> no. from the apology --

    >> he was just a cad. did you see " almost famous "?

    >> i was in -- no, i wasn't.

    >> yeah. this is a story. it's a fan. the kid made the whole thing up. here's the worse. i think this is the worse looking at chain of command . no, it is not holbrook . that's -- it's bad but this is the worst. mcchrystal said he was, quote, disappointed with the commander in chief in his first meeting at the white house with an unprepared president obama . that is just stunning. that any general could make that comment and think he could survive. mark?

    >> i think game out to the next step of this, the president needs -- remember. the big support the president has on capitol hill for the afghan policy not from his own party but from republicans.

    >> right.

    >> he needs to come out of this however it concludes with a replacement and signals of how he's dealt with this and republicans don't attack him but stay on board, double down with him on the afghan policy. that is a delicate thing for a democratic president to do given the challenge from man in uniform about his seriousness about this issue. complicated.

    >> republicans will use this as an issue this fall, obviously. the republican leadership better be damn careful on capitol hill they show respect to the chain of command and civilian leadership over the military. if they don't and there will be idiots that say stupid things today.

    >> correct.

    >> you'll make a fool of yourself. just sit back and be quiet, republicans. this is mcchrystal and holbrook . mcchrystal reserves special skepticism for holbrooke the official. holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he's going to be fired so that micks him dangerous.

    >> i need to go on. it is better.

    >> read it out opinion or comment.

    >> okay he's a brilliant guy. but he just comes in, pulls on a lever whatever he can grasp on. skipping the next sentence. at one point, mcchrystal checks the blackberry. oh, not another e-mail from holbrooke he groans. i don't want to open it. he clicks on the message and reads the salation outloud and stuffs it back in the pocket not bothering to conceal the annoyance. make sure you don't get that on your leg, an aide jokes, referring the e-mail.

    >> captures the locker room atmosphere around mcchrystal.

    >> and disdain.

    >> this is the hardest of all imperial war zones that the united states is now in. nobody wins. and it's not surprising that the administration finds ooitsitself in difficulty here. i kind of find him -- he appeared on the scene as the ultimate hard ass dealing with the ultimate military challenge and this is so completely out of line he can't possibly survive and a major blow for the administration. in terms of pr, he is the worst man for him.

    >> it is the third time. he leaked to woodward, london speech and now this. at this point, he is not naive. he thinks afghanistan 's going to fail.

    >> right.

    >> and he is going to go out with guns blazing.

    >> exactly.

    >> and that is -- eric --

    >> he can't be that naive.

    >> there's a pass and calculated and very interesting that, you know, he chooses " rolling stone ." kudos to michael hastings . he deserves the credit for doing this story but, you know, " rolling stone " made a reputation for practically blowing goldman sachs apart in the last year and you expect a little bland piece about yourself. this is going to be a very calculated decision on mcchrystal's part.

    >> " rolling stone " made waves with the bp story. you have another bp story and the white house was enraged with your bp story last week. you guys are making waves but this one, this one is shaking washington. let me ask really quickly, mark. general mcchrystal had to know this was going to be the end when he attacks the president, the vice president, the ambassador to afghanistan , the national security advise tore the president. he's not a fool. he had to know this would be the end.

    >> my guess is he didn't, to tell you the truth. this played out over a long period of time. he's exactly the opposite of petraeus. a man in uniform that doesn't understand the way the military works. no disrespect to the magazine but just agreeing to talk to " rolling stone " is nuts but not if you're playing --

    >> in the course not story, i don't think we got the sense that it was intentional and got a look behind the curtain. men talking amongst themselves. mcchrystal known for being very, very frank. one of the most appealing traits. whether he used good judgment in using this stuff in front of a reporter is another question.

    >> what is the up jooid? h how did you pitch this to the general leading the war in afghanistan ? dude, could we follow you for a couple of months? i joke about the dude but a feeling in the military that " rolling stone " has been since 1967 anti-war. so why would you have a magazine that is reflexively anti-war following you around with unprecedented access for two months?

    >> you have to think about the readership, as well. we reach younger readers an the military is interested in reaching them, as well.

    >> you look where the army advertises.

    >> that's right.

    >> a great example. were you surprised, though, by the unfettered access?

    >> no. i was surprised by what they did with it and not more guarded and i think this is a guy gotten in tremendous, tremendous amount of publicity, a lot of profiles and used to favorable profiles. "newsweek" called him a jedi knight .

    >> a knight that took the light saber to his throat.

    >> oh, eric .

    >> whoosh.

    >> terrible.

    >> mika, this is also a guy, though, he's had so many miscues. i have no idea why he's still there. remember in the "60 minutes" interview i was stunned he showed disrespect to bob gates , secretary of defense, saying gates and the pentagon dragging their feet. but then he was asked, when's the last time you talked to the president of the united states ? now, any other general would say, well, conversations between the president an myself, well, it's private. it's confidential. he came out immediately saying, oh, i haven't talked to him in three months and caused a political stir for the president. three months. this guy has not shown discipline and then, of course, the air force one meeting. he is not buttoned down to say the least.

    >> was there pushback on the article? any attempt to stop it? if d they get wind of it?

    >> no, absolutely not. we ran everything by them in the fact checking process as we always do. they had a sense of what was coming and all on the record and they spent a lot of time with our reporter so i think they knew that they had said it.

    >> stunning.

    >> oh my god.

    >> let's -- yeah. probably not getting another one with the general for a while. just guessing.

    >> at least not this general .

    >> he's not -- he will be a retired general .

    >> it is interesting because i would think they would push back and say find a way that this maybe isn't legitimate.

    >> no.

    >> the fact they didn't means first of all they know he said it and not refute it an gives me perspective on other things they have pushed back on.

    >> hey. let me ask you something quickly. i want to switch topics. cbs poll came out, 32% of americans believe the president has a plan to create jobs, revive the economy. 54% say he doesn't. isn't there a growing skepticism in the united states and england and france and germany who were sort of reflexively fighting against stimulus plans that federal governments across the west cannot revive economies spending more money?

    >> i think the president had the plan. he doesn't have one anymore. the plan was to use large deficits to stimulate the economy and we would get a recovery this year in the wake of that. now, it just isn't materializing and so there's mounting skepticism beginning in europe and i think spreading across the atlantic what you can achieve with 10% of gdp deficits and now seeing the shadow side of deficit financing and began in greek and the big worry of the public is that kind of deficit crisis comes to the united states and in a bigger hole than before.

    >> we'll talk about that and your book when we return. eric , thank you so much.

    >> thank you for coming across the street. this is explosive. we woke him up, by the way.

    >> needed to be.

    >> i'm disappointed if an executive editor of " rolling stone " not asleep at 6:00 a.m . with an emergency --

    >> doing my job.

    >> thank you very much.

    >> we won't show the cover but showing a great shot of general mcchrystal, the runaway general . thank you so much.

    >> thank you.

msnbc.com
updated 6/22/2010 10:10:41 AM ET 2010-06-22T14:10:41

As Gen. Stanley McChrystal makes the long trip back to Washington, pundits are weighing in on whether a Rolling Stone magazine article about the “Runaway General” could be grounds for the man in charge of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan to step down from his post.

Below is a roundup of the top 10 excerpts from that article, which is slated to come out this Friday.

  • “Are you asking about Vice President Biden?” McChrystal says with a laugh. “Who’s that?”
    “Biden?” suggests a top adviser. “Did you say: Bite me?”
  • Even though he had voted for Obama, McChrystal and his new commander in chief failed from the outset to connect…. According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked “uncomfortable and intimidated” by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later…. “It was a 10-minute photo op,” says an adviser to McChrystal. “Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s a guy who’s going to run his fucking war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.
  • Last fall, with his top general calling for more troops, Obama launched a three-month review to re-evaluate the strategy in Afghanistan. “I found that time painful,” McChrystal tells me in one of several lengthy interviews. “I was selling an unsellable position.”
  • The biggest military operation of the year – a ferocious offensive that began in February to re-take the southern town of Marja – continues to drag on, prompting McChrystal himself to refer to it as a “bleeding ulcer.”
  • In private, Team McChrystal likes to talk shit about many of Obama’s top people on the diplomatic side…. Politicians like McCain and Kerry, says another aide, “turn up, have a meeting with [President Hamid] Karzai, criticize him at the airport press conference, then get back for Sunday talk shows. Frankly, it’s not very helpful.”
  • “Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke,” [McChrystal] groans. “I don’t even want to open it.”
  • By far the most crucial — and strained — relationship is between McChrystal and Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador.
  • “We’ve shot an amazing number of people,” McChrystal recently conceded.
  • “Bottom line?” says a former Special Forces operator who has spent years in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I would love to kick McChrystal in the nuts. His rules of engagement put soldiers’ lives in even greater danger. Every real soldier will tell you the same thing.”
  • McChrystal may have sold President Obama on counterinsurgency, but many of his own men aren’t buying it.

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