- By Uri Friedman
Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Before joining FP, he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland.
If there’s one fact about the sex scandal surrounding David Petraeus that we can report with certainty, it’s this: Petraeus is a really hard name to spell.
Since the news about the former CIA chief’s extramarital affair broke on Friday, respected news outlets, prominent media personalities, and even a former chairman of the House’s intelligence committee have butchered his last name (Petraeus once explained that people started calling him "Peaches" because his last name was too difficult to pronounce during Little League games).
But the misspellings may tell us more than just who bothered to Google, Wikipedia, or copy-and-paste the general’s name. Indeed, they may provide a window into the conspiracy theories that have sprouted around the scandal in recent days. As AFP’s Dave Clark tweeted today, "Conspiracy fans: Save time and outrage by discounting any theories touted by folk who can’t spell Petraeus."
Were you to ignore Clark’s advice and actively seek out the opinions of folk who can’t spell Petraeus, here’s some of what you might find:
Petrayus retires due to cheeting, now a lockheed exec does too. Its a convenient excuse prior to Obama induced layoffs
— klaatu barda nikto (@klaatu) November 10, 2012
— Abdul Alim Muhammad (@DrAlim) November 11, 2012
The woman who"outed" Petraeous affair was FBI agent in Holder’s DOJ? Now isn’t that special?! @natenquirer What a Coincidence! Investigate!
— Jana Shellman (@wishladya) November 10, 2012
#nowWithAlex ..GOP hopefuls for 2016 may have wanted Petraus neutralized as a candidate.
— Jim Devaney (@XIXthLegion) November 12, 2012
Must remember that this administration murders people without a thought about. Petraeous is on the kill list if he testifies. Had to do it.
— Salt (@captainanglin) November 9, 2012
Paula Broadwell could be Gen. Petraus’ daughter. No, really. She looks exactly like him.
— Priscilla Jones (@PatriotWriter) November 12, 2012
Why is Angeline Jolie a member of Council on Foreign Relations and hangs out at the CIA with Petraus? j.mp/RSP4j4
— Charles Edward Frith (@charlesfrith) November 12, 2012
Petraeous affair was known for many months. Obama forced it out now to distract from all his other shady deals. Sandy, Benghazi, gun running
— Bob D Caterino (@Caterino) November 12, 2012
Wow .. Obama forces David Petraeous out of CIA so he cant testify on Benghazi attacks ! Good job America !
— Georgia Boy ® (@JustAGaBoy) November 9, 2012