Saturday, May 12, 2007

CBS Drops Gen. Batiste Because ...

CBS News has canned Gen. John Batiste "due to his participation in an ad criticizing President Bush."

The initial post on the CBS Public Eye quoted Standards and Special Projects Linda Mason as saying that viewers of the ad "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.”

In an update to the post Mason "expanded" her remarks. “General Batiste took part in a commercial that’s being shown on television to raise money for veterans against the war,” she said. “It isn’t just that he took an advocacy position.”

The ad does not solicit money, but targets moderate Republicans to support Democrat-led Congressional initiatives regarding Iraq war funding and checks. But leave that aside. And also that Mason said that, despite his infraction, CBS may yet turn to Batiste, though not as a paid consultant. What's really confusing is whether it is his opinion or its expression that tips the scales.

Clearly, Batiste is advocating. In an appearance on MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" on the day he was let go Batiste said that the ad was running in the districts of four of the 11 moderate Republicans who met with Bush and top advisers to convey the news that the war was damaging Republican political fortunes. "That speaks volumes," Batiste said, appearing to revel in the notion that the ad may have helped motivated the visit.

But Batiste was a prominent critic of Bush's handling of the war before he was hired as a CBS consultant. He vigorously called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, including in testimony before Congress. The modestly informed viewer already knew he had strong opinions on that subject -- his area of expertise, for goodness' sake, the one he was hired to talk about.

So what's new?

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