Last year, during the Presidential debate season, the second debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama sparked a bit of controversy that had nothing whatsoever to do with either of the candidates and everything to do with the moderator. Candy Crowley, of CNN, leapt into the middle of crosstalk between Obama and Romney over Benghazi to confirm that Obama “did, in fact” call Benghazi a terror attack:
She would later back down from those comments and and denied any partisan intent in making the interjection, claiming she was “just trying to move the conversation along.” But the incident sparked outrage from conservatives, and now apparently has even prompted regrets from one of the co-chairs of the Commission on Presidential Debates. Politico reports:
Frank Fahrenkopf, a co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, said tonight that the Commission made a “mistake” by selecting CNN anchor Candy Crowley to moderate one of the 2012 presidential debates.
Fahrenkopf, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, was speaking at the Las Vegas Country Club in Nevada. According to Jon Ralston, the Nevada-based political journalist, Fahrenkopf told the audience there that he was proud of the 2012 debate moderators, but added: “We made one mistake this time: Her name is Candy.”
Crowley, who moderated the second, town-hall-style debate, drew heavy fire from conservatives for challenging Mitt Romney after he suggested that President Obama had not called the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, “acts of terror.”
Naturally enough, the fact that Fahrenkopf is a former RNC Chair is likely to draw accusations of partisan sour grapes from Crowley’s defenders. Nevertheless, no Democrats on the commission have complained about the (also controversial) moderator Jim Lehrer, who was on hand for the first debate between Romney and Obama. Given that the first debate was widely seen as disastrous for the president to a much greater degree than the second debate was for Romney, and yet Crowley is still the one attracting opprobrium from the commission, it is therefore arguable that at least some questions of merit are implicated.