CBS News has claimed that it fired Gen. John Batiste because he was engaging in “advocacy” that might hurt the credibility of his “analytical approach.” CBS has not expressed a similar level of concern with its other consultants, particularly former Bush aide Nicolle Wallace.
ThinkProgress has confirmed that Wallace serves as an informal advisor to the McCain campaign. As early as August 2006, the National Journal reported that Wallace was affiliated with the McCain campaign:
Nicolle Wallace, who oversaw communications for Bush in the campaign and at the White House, will help McCain.
The Washington Post’s Peter Baker also noted that she was aiding the McCain campaign.
CBS does not appear to have been concerned that Wallace’s advocacy for McCain would impact her on-air analysis. But on at least two occasions — after the media reported she was affiliated with the campaign — Wallace appeared on CBS programming to boost John McCain:
I think, one, there is John McCain and there is everybody else. Nobody else running for president or thinking about running for president is even in a category of suggesting or proposing policy that any commander in chief is considering adapting. And I think John McCain himself addressed the political perils this week when he came out in all his interviews and said, `You know, everyone knows I have presidential aspirations, but let’s put all that aside and do right by the men and women of our military.’ And I think that is the essence of who he his and what his campaign will be about. [CBS Saturday, 1/6/07]
I think one thing that has always dogged the White House when it comes to Iraq is, in addition to people feeling uncomfortable and weary of what is clearly a very difficult war, they have always been under the impression that there was no plan for Iraq. Now, I don’t think McCain will suffer from that label from the public. He obviously has a plan. I think people associate him with this strategy of having more troops, and we’re now going to see that. But I think McCain is doing exactly what his core supporters–and that’s a pretty large number of Americans–expect him to do, and that’s to put it all on the line, to say… “Let the chips fall where they may.” [CBS Saturday, 1/13/07]
CBS’s concerns over the “advocacy” of Gen. John Batiste is clearly hypocritical. The network will have to offer a better reason for why he was let go.
UPDATE: CBS VP Linda Mason amends her complaint against Batiste. “It isn’t just that he took an advocacy position,” she said. “General Batiste took part in a commercial that’s being shown on television to raise money for veterans against the war.” Actually, the VoteVets ad that Batiste appears is not a fundraising ad.