Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Should John Batiste Get A Reprieve From CBS?

MoveOn Among Those Calling For General's Reinstatement; Did CBS Buckle Under White House Pressure and Forget Why They Hired Him in the First Place?
CBS had retired Maj. Gen. John Batiste under contract as a consultant to give no-nonsense assessments about Iraq and all things Pentagon.
But last week it gave him the network equivalent of a court-martial when it booted him for appearing in an anti-Bush ad. That's a CBS no-no. The network's standards mandate that those on the payroll not engage in advocacy and it said the ad in question raised money for veterans against the war.
Only thing is, that's not actually the case, as you can see here. True, there is a point of view in the VoteVets spot, but nowhere does it ask for a donation. So, Batiste was fired under false pretenses.
Or CBS (full disclosure: a former employer of mine) is just guilty of hypocrisy, as ThinkProgress trenchantly points out in noting it has former Bush aide Nicole Wallace employed as a consultant, notwithstanding the fact she's quoted left and right (mostly right) in the media bashing Democrats.
Of course, you're not going to get CBS to admit it's OK to advocate as long as you don't dump on the president. But it sure does appear that way, enough so that MoveOn.org is mounting a petition drive to get Batiste reinstated.
We won't be holding our breath, but CBS has certainly shown why it should restate its policy or, at the very least, enforce it uniformly. To hire analysts and then penalize them for having an opinion doesn't just defeat the purpose of hiring them in the first place -- after all, Batiste left the Army because he disagreed with Iraq policy -- it's disingenuous and just plain dumb.

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