As Thinkprogress has noted, the firing of Gen John Batiste for speaking out on the Iraq War has been a complete disgrace. Their given rationale is that his advocacy against Bush's Iraq Strategy has undermined the viewers ability to see his analysis as "unbiased and objective" according to Linda Mason, CBS News Vice President, Standards and Special Projects:
"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."
I'm sorry but such an opinion on the viewers part would be highly prejudicial would it not? Rather than take steps to prove such bigotry wrong, by pointing out that Batiste is a lifelong Republican, CBS has instead chosen to give in and confirm that view with their decision.
It's also interesting to note that CBS News continues to maintain several pro-Bush War advocates on it's staff, but has yet to question their objectivity.
The sheer level of hypocritical B.S. coming from CBS on this issue has been staggering. While they've fired Batiste, CBS continues to keep former White House communications director and consultant to the McCain campaign, Nicholle Wallace on the payroll. Here are a few examples of Wallace's "Objectiveness":
"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]
And here are some of Wallace's statements on 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]
Yeah well, You outta know Nicolle.
But Wallace isn't alone in her blatant partisanship, there's also CBS Military analysis Michael O'Hanlon who has openly advocated his support for Bush's Surge Strategy in Iraq. From the Washington Post via TPM.
President Bush's plan for a surge of American troops in Iraq has run into a brick wall of congressional opposition. Critics rightly argue that it may well be too little, way too late. But for a skeptical Congress and nation, it is still the right thing to try -- as long as we do not count on it succeeding and we start working on backup plans even as we grant Bush his request...
Rather than deny funding for Bush's initiatives, Congress should provide it now -- but only for fiscal 2007 (meaning through September). By that point, or even the August congressional recess, we should know if the surge is showing promise. If it does, Congress could consider continuing its support....
If the surge fails, we will need a whole new paradigm for Iraq policy, and it is hardly too soon for Congress to start fleshing out our choices. But for now, Congress should also give the president the money and support that he requests.
It should be noted that O'Hanlon has been a consultant with the Brooking's Institute, one of the oldest "Liberal" think tanks in existence, which has long sought to counterbalance the conservative Heritage Foundation and Liberterian Cato Institute - at least in theory. In fact, what he's saying here is "Lets Give War A Chance".
Um, how about let's Not - M,kay?
I may be wrong here, but it seems to me that Batiste has just been Goodling-ed:
Two years ago, Robin C. Ashton, a seasoned criminal prosecutor at the Department of Justice, learned from her boss that a promised promotion was no longer hers.
"You have a Monica problem," Ms. Ashton was told, according to several Justice Department officials. Referring to Monica M. Goodling, a 31-year-old, relatively inexperienced lawyer who had only recently arrived in the office, the boss added, "She believes you’re a Democrat and doesn’t feel you can be trusted." [...]
Ms. Goodling would soon be quizzing applicants for civil service jobs at Justice Department headquarters with questions that several United States attorneys said were inappropriate, like who was their favorite president and Supreme Court justice. One department official said an applicant was even asked, "Have you ever cheated on your wife?"
Ms. Goodling also moved to block the hiring of prosecutors with résumés that suggested they might be Democrats, even though they were seeking posts that were supposed to be nonpartisan, two department officials said.
Is CBS applying an anti-Democrat Litmus test? It's a good question after Dan Rather and superscript-gate led to Katie Couric on the CBS News, and on 60 Minutes with her despicable grilling of John Edwards on what "some people say..." about his wife's cancer, even though she herself had continued working while her own husband battled colon cancer, isn't it?
One clue might be the fact that CBS took two weeks to fire Don Imus for his racial and gender slurs, but just two days to fire Batiste for speaking up on Iraq.
Or how about this further comment from Ms. Mason:
"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."
Well, no - he didn't. The VoteVets ad that General Batiste - who commanded the Army's First Infantry Division in Iraq during 2004 and 2005 - participated in was not a fundraising ad and made no request for funds. Batiste simply spoke out and shared the benefit of his experience after two years on the front lines fighting Bush's pointless War, and simply targeted those in Congress who continued to enable it.
Like Kyle Sampson, how many different stories on why Batiste was really fired is Mason going to make up?
I'm not suggesting that either Wallace or O'Hanlon also be fired for their advocacy, only that full disclosure of ones opinion not be considered anathema to objective and open debate. Nor do I think Gen Batiste should go back to CBS, there are of course other Networks and outlets (Countdown - hint hint!) where he can speak openly and honestly. It was their mistake, their loss and they shouldn't get a Mulligan. If anything, their action has actually had the reverse of the desired effect of silencing war critics by helping to highlight this issue and keep it running through several more news cycles. They may have just made Batiste into a Martyr.
[L]ots of former generals and similar are on the cable networks cheering on the war, so anyone who criticizes former generals speaking up is essentially saying they can only express their opinions in one direction. In addition, while this point wasn’t (IIRC) made explicitly, it essentially makes the whole "former general as cable news commentator" position a farcical one at odds with any claimed journalistic pretension, as they’re only on if they support current policy.
It's exactly the kind of one-sided objectivity we've long come to know and expect from the "Liberal Media" isn't it?
I simply want to say that after the service performed by Gen. Batiste to his country, he (and us) clearly deserve far better than treatment he received from CBS News.
Whether you agree or not, you can tell CBS how you feel by going here.