In a recent VoteVets ad, Gen. John Batiste says, “I left the Army in protest in order to speak out.” Now, CBS has punished him for speaking out. Last night, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann reported, “General John Batiste loses his CBS job after appearing in an advertisement critical of the president.”
CBS News spokeswoman Sandy Genelius spoke to ThinkProgress this morning and confirmed that Batiste’s consulting contract has been canceled due to his participation in the VoteVets ad. Genelius said Batiste “inadvertently violated our standards” and therefore “we and the General mutually agreed to end his consultants’ arrangement with CBS News.”
When asked what standards Batiste violated, Genelius said he participated in “advocacy,” but noted that she had not seen the ad to verify the charge. Batiste’s only “advocacy” in the ad might be found in this statement: “Mr. President, you have placed our nation in peril. Our only hope is that Congress will act now to protect our fighting men and women.” Watch the ad:
While CBS claims it will not tolerate consultants engaging in outside advocacy, it apparently has no problem paying a former White House communications director to engage in the Bush administration’s advocacy on air. While being billed as CBS News’ “political consultant,” Nicolle Wallace has propagated talking points advanced by her old colleagues in the White House communications office. Some examples:
“The Democrats have to walk a fine line and be careful. People don’t want to turn on the TV and see every story being about the obstruction of people trying to do things.” [Washington Post, 3/7/07]
“Well, you know, people ask me all the time, ‘Do they [in the White House] get it? Do they get how bad things are?’ And the answer is yes.” [CBS Evening News, 12/12/06]
At the end of the day, no matter how discontent some voters are, they really don’t want to see Democrats in control of the Congress. [CBS Evening News, 10/23/06]
It’s apparently only advocacy when you’re opposing Bush. Americans United notes that it took two weeks for CBS to fire Don Imus for racial slurs, but two days to fire Batiste for speaking up on Iraq.
You can send a message to CBS here.
UPDATE: Greg Sargent notes that CBS has allowed escalation advocate Michael O’Hanlon to remain on its payroll.