On this morning after last night’s presidential debate, moderator and CNN’s chief political correspondent Candy Crowley has found herself in the center of criticism (mostly from Republicans) for having a part in one of the debate’s most heated exchanges.
When the conversation turned to the consulate attack in Libya, Governor Mitt Romney criticized President Barack Obama for taking “14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.” As CNN (again, her outlet) puts it: “Romney falsely accused the president of not calling the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a terror attack. But, as the fearless and fact-based Candy Crowley noted, Romney was not telling the truth. The day after the attack, Obama referred to it as ‘terror’ – even before full reports were in.”
It was a syntax issue. Crowley herself admitted that very point immediately after, telling both men that “it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. [Romney is] correct about that.” Later, she reiterated that Romney had a issue with wording, saying, “[Romney] was right in the main, I just think he picked the wrong word.”
But in conservative eyes, the damage was done. Fox points out that despite Crowley’s immediate follow-up during the debate, “Crowley’s interruption spoiled a key Romney point.”
MSNBC claims Romney missed his mark, and in the end, was rattled. “Romney would have been on safer ground if he charged that Obama didn’t call it a coordinated terrorist attack by al Qaeda-affiliated elements, and the Romney spinners after the debate made that point. But Romney used a different term – ‘act of terror’ – and Obama DID SAY that. And afterward, Romney appeared rattled after he allowed himself to get caught up on the losing end of a semantic argument. Romney was not the same candidate after that moment.”
But is Crowley deserving of the criticism for interjecting? Or was she trying to clarify? Is an aggressive moderator better than, say, a Jim Lehrer?