Cam Edwards, a talk-radio host at NRANews.com, drew out CBS Public Eye facilitator Vaughn Ververs on the subject of "60 Minutes" star Mike Wallace appearing at a $250-a-pop fundraiser (and birthday party for political humorist Art Buchwald) for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Ververs took that question to Wallace and CBS senior vice president for standards Linda Mason. Mason suggested the network was investigating whether Wallace would be allowed to report on gun issues after this appearance. Wallace claimed he had no idea the Buchwald party was an anti-gun fundraiser until a few weeks before the event. (This is a bit odd, since we raised a fuss about the perception of taking sides back in July.) He then decided to remedy the conflict by paying for his own ticket and tickets for family members. Doesn't that ADD to the conflict, that now he's not simply drawing other people into buying tickets, he's putting his own dollars in the Brady basket? Ververs declared:
Here’s my take: It never looks good when a correspondent (or any member of a journalistic enterprise) appears at events connected with a controversial cause. Speaking at an event to raise money for breast cancer, heart disease or AIDS, fine. Speaking at one for either side of the gun control, abortion or Iraq debate is only asking for trouble. You can debate this issue all day but the bottom line is that it creates a perception problem at the very least. CBS News and all news organizations are right to be sensitive to the point of pettiness about this....
There is nothing wrong with speaking at a friend’s birthday party. But while Wallace may have kept his remarks primarily about Buchwald, the fact that he brought a video that referenced gun control and that he cast Heston in an unfavorable light raises concerns and skirts the edges of advocacy -- especially at an event where money was being raised...His presence, and especially the video, comes very close to making him "identifiable" with a cause in my view.
UPDATE: Cam notes that they have video of Wallace's remarks at the Brady Center event available by clicking on the archives section of NRAnews.com and then looking it up under the heading "Brady Campaign at the French Embassy."