Paid consultant critical of Bush, war in Iraq

CBS News fired retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste as a paid consultant for making an advertisement critical of President Bush.

Batiste, who was involved in the planning of the Iraq invasion, left the military in 2003 and has since been one of the more outspoken former generals critical of the conduct of the war.

He was notified of the network’s decision Thursday by CBS News standards and practices veep Linda Mason.

Mason told CBS News’ in-house blog Public Eye that Batiste’s appearance in the ad violated the news org’s standards, in which “we ask that people not be involved in advocacy.”

In the ad, paid for by the Vote Vets Political Action Committee, Batiste said he left the military to speak out against the Iraq war. “Mr. President, you have placed our nation in peril,” he said. “You continue to pursue a failed strategy that is breaking our great Army and Marine Corps.”

“When we hire someone as a consultant, we want them to share their expertise with our viewers,” Mason 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.”

Mason said the decision would be the same if Batiste had participated in an ad in support of Bush.

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