As ThinkProgress has reported, CBS has terminated Gen. John Batiste’s consulting contract with the network over his appearance in a VoteVets ad. CBS News’ blog sought comment from Linda Mason, CBS News Vice President, Standards and Special Projects. Here’s what Mason said about Batiste:
“When we hire someone as a consultant, we want them to share their expertise with our viewers,” she said. “By putting himself front and center in an anti-Bush ad, the viewer might have the feeling everything he says is anti-Bush. And that doesn’t seem like an analytical approach to the issues we want to discuss.”
Mason’s concern is hypocritical. CBS hasn’t shown a similar level of apprehension for being painted “pro-Bush” when former White House communications director Nicolle Wallace appears on its programming. Nor has it been concerned when its military analyst Michael O’Hanlon advocated in favor of Bush’s Iraq policy.
Mason belittles Batiste’s opposition to Bush’s Iraq policy, suggesting it is not “an analytical approach.” In fact, Batiste’s opposition stems from his personal experience and involvement in the execution of the Iraq war (Batiste commanded the Army’s First Infantry Division in 2004 and 2005). And he has not allowed partisanship to influence his “analytical approach.” Newsweek reports:
Batiste says he remains a “diehard Republican” and has no intention of wading directly into the presidential campaign a la McClellan and MacArthur. He took part in the VoteVets.org campaign, he says, because it’s a “nonpartisan group.”
“I’ve had nothing but absolute support” from colleagues inside the military, Batiste said. “No one has objected.” No one — until CBS found out that he wasn’t a full-fledged supporter of Bush’s war policy.
UPDATE: Kagro X has more.