From sidelines, debate moderator Crowley becomes part of story

Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:13am EDT

* During debate, Crowley said Obama correct in Libya dispute

* Romney supporters upset by Crowley's interruptions

* Campaigns had hoped moderator would take passive role

By Samuel P. Jacobs

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y., Oct 17 (Reuters) - As in pro football this season, many of the noisiest complaints after political debates have been directed not at the participants, but at the referees.

Tuesday's debate between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney was no exception, as moderator Candy Crowley of CNN came under fire for siding with Obama during one of his sharpest exchanges with Romney.

In that moment, Crowley walked into the middle of a national security controversy and contravened the wishes of both presidential campaigns that she remain largely a spectator in the second presidential debate.

After Romney said that it took Obama 14 days to call the attack that killed four Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, an act of "terror," Obama cited remarks he made in the White House Rose Garden on Sept. 12, the day after the attack. The president said he had mentioned terrorism in recounting the attack.

"Get the transcript," Obama told Romney.

"He did call it an act of terror," Crowley said, siding with Obama's interpretation.

On CNN after the debate, Crowley said her comment "was the natural thing that came out of me."

Romney supporters at the debate were irate.

"Candy was wrong, and Candy had no business doing that, and Candy didn't even keep the (candidates' speaking) time right," said former New Hampshire governor John Sununu, one of Romney's most boisterous supporters.

Other Republicans chimed in with criticism of Crowley.

"At different times tonight, she in fact got into the game, and she wasn't on the sidelines," said Ron Kaufman, a senior adviser to Romney.


The jibes about Crowley's comment on Libya came after both campaigns expressed anxiety over how active a role she would take in the debate, which featured undecided voters asking the candidates questions in a "town hall" format.

The idea was to allow Obama and Romney to directly address voters' concerns and engage one another in the second of three debates the pair will have before the Nov. 6 election.

Both sides said they feared that Crowley would take too firm a hand, overshadowing the audience members picked to ask questions.

A copy of the campaigns' agreement over the debate's terms was leaked to Time magazine on Monday.

The memorandum, to which Crowley did not personally consent, stated that the moderator would not ask follow-up questions. The agreement did allow Crowley to select which questions, written by the undecided voters attending the debate, would be asked.

Harsh criticism of the debate moderator followed the first presidential debate, too.

After that debate, in Denver on Oct. 3, Obama's supporters complained that moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS had been too passive and was overrun by an aggressive Romney.

At one point during Tuesday's debate, Crowley appeared to admit that she did not want to get the same treatment as Lehrer, saying that might "get run of town" if she didn't force the two candidates to move onto another question.

She may have had more than Lehrer's reviews in mind.

Last month, Carole Simpson, the first woman to moderate a presidential debate in 1992, wrote in an op-ed column that her role at a town hall forum 20 years ago was whittled down to being "the lady with the microphone," prevented from asking questions of her own.

Not all Romney hands saw value in Republicans leveling attacks on the moderator.

"I don't complain about the refs," said campaign senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom. "I think Candy was dandy."

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Comments (2)
47songs wrote:
” Romney supporters upset by Crowley’s interruptions”

I’m surprised they haven’t said it must be a conspiracy
between Crowley and Obama. They’ve got yo stop whining.No one was as rude as Romney, once again, trying to run the debate by telling the moderator when it was his turn to answer questions.

Oct 17, 2012 2:55am EDT  --  Report as abuse
mrmikejohnson wrote:
CNN comes out today with a memo forcing their anchors to say Crowley was right. LOL. They don’t trust their anchors to form their own opinions?

This is in line with the rest of CNN’s coverage. They have become VERY, VERY liberal. Their ratings reflect their awful news coverage. Liberals in America watch MSNBC, not CNN. Fair-minded people would never watch CNN. Who is their audience? They fire all non-liberals from their stations. Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck were fired for not being liberal. They’re not even Republicans. Dobbs is an independent populist. Beck is a Libertarian. All non-liberals are not welcome on CNN.

As far as Crowley goes, only a far-left liberal would think that Crowley did a good job. She cut off Romney 4 times as much as Obama. The questions she picked were straight of the Democratic Party playbook. She picked two questions with false premises.

1. One questioned assumed George W Bush’s policies caused the economic problems. Only liberals think this! The economic crisis was really caused by Fanny Mae, Freddie Mac, and Wall Street treating home mortgages like stocks. This are Democratic policies!!! George Bush had nothing to do with them. Barney Frank oversaw Fanny and Freddie. Bill Clinton repealed Glass-Steagel which prevented Wall Street from trading home mortgages. The War in Iraq DID NOT cause the recession. In fact, if you’re a Keysian/Paul Krugmann believer like almost all Democrats seem to be, it should have HELPED the economy.

2. The second false premise question Crowley asked was about a wage disparity between men and women. This is a MYTH that has been proven MANY times. Check for a good explanation.

Crowley was also VERY biased with follow up questions. Why didn’t she ask Barack Obama why he pays female staffers 18% less than male staffers. She asked Romney about “self deportation”. Only tough questions are asked of Romney?

Of course, Crowley’s biggest blunder was saying that Obama called the Benghazi attacks an act of terror. He did just the opposite! He went out of his way to avoid specifically saying that Benghazi was a terrorist attack. He talked of terrorism in general and spoke of 9/11. He called the Benghazi attacks many things (tragic, unacceptable, etc). At no point did he directly call them terrorist attacks.

THIS IS SUPPORTED BY CNN’S OWN COVERAGE. When Jay Carney finally did concede that they were terrorist attacks, CNN, NYTs, and most other news outlets ran stories saying “White House Finally Admits Benghazi was Terrorism”. NO ONE thought that Obama had called them terrorist attacks before then. NO ONE! Even the most liberal media outlets made a big deal out of it when the White House finally did call Benghazi “terrorism” and that was WEEKS after the attack. Either way, Crowley’s job as moderator is not to give her opinions on who she thinks is right. It’s to ask questions and regulate the debate.

I think Crowley is just so liberal that she doesn’t even realize her bias. CNN’s rating will continue to fall. CNN has become a propaganda outlet for the Democratic Party. Now, they don’t even let their news people make up their own mind about Crowley’s performance?

Oct 18, 2012 2:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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