CBS News Vice President, Standards and Special Projects Linda Mason confirmed to me that Batiste was asked to vacate his position.
“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.”
He’s been knocking the war publicly for more than a year. Sample quote from April 13, 2006: “I think the current administration repeatedly ignored sound military advice and counsel with respect to the war plans. I think that the principles of war are fundamental, and we violate those at our own peril. And military leaders of all ranks, particularly the senior military, have an obligation in a democracy to say something about it.” He was also one of the group of retired generals that called for Rumsfeld’s resignation at around the same time — on one of CBS’s shows, in fact. If you don’t want your viewers worried about your experts being anti-Bush, don’t hire experts who are famously anti-Bush.
As for the fact that he went so far as to advocate for his position in an ad, that’s actually a point in his favor. The more honest the media is about its biases, the better informed the viewer is about the orientation of the news he’s consuming (which, I’m sure, is the real reason the ad made CBS nervous). If it’s between Batiste and Keith “I’m not a Democrat” Olbermann, give me Batiste any day.
Talking Points Memo notes that CBS hasn’t applied this rule uniformly, either, letting surge supporter Michael O’Hanlon keep his consulting job with the network despite having penned a few pro-surge op-eds in the past. The right-wing media at work.