This is from the Memorandum of Understanding governing the Town Hall debate."The moderator will not ask follow-up questions or comment on either the questions asked by the audience or the answers of the candidates during the debate or otherwise intervene in the debate."
Here is a short list of what Candy Crowley was supposed to be doing.
1. Taking questions
That is all.
Both campaigns objected to Candy Crowley's attempts to insert herself into the debate before it even happened, to no avail. The media is predictably patting her and Martha Raddatz on the back for inserting themselves into the debate, unlike Jim Lehrer who allowed the debate to happen. The next debate should be moderated by Bob Schieffer who may actually behave like a professional and not try to make the debate about him.
How out of bounds was the Wicked Witch of CNN?
This is from the Memorandum of Understanding governing the Town Hall debate.
The moderator will not ask follow-up questions or comment on either the questions asked by the audience or the answers of the candidates during the debate or otherwise intervene in the debate except to acknowledge the questioners from the audiences or enforce the time limits, and invite candidate comments during the 2 minute response period.
Candy Crowley accepted it and then violated it repeatedly, most egregiously when she falsely claimed that Obama had called Benghazi a terrorist attack. Not only was she a liar and wrong... but attempting to fact check Romney was so far outside her role in the debate that she was acting like the third candidate.
Crowley has since admitted that Romney was mostly right. The usual lib spin machines at Media Matters and Think Progress are trying to salvage this mess by treating Obama's boilerplate rhetoric about "Acts of Terror" as a statement that this was a terrorist attack.
“Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None. The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts…No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.”
Acts of Terror can be defined as just about anything. If Obama meant terrorism, then he found the vaguest possible way to say it.
Rather than discussing this attack specifically, Obama mentioned "Acts of Terror" in the plural and applied it as a general statement of values, rather than a description of events.
The Washington Post shot down the notion that Acts of Terror was the same as saying terrorism.
Note: we added this statement to the timeline after Josh Gerstein of Politico asserted that the phrasing “acts of terror” showed Obama acknowledged “terrorism” was behind the attack. From our many years of covering diplomacy we would say there is a world of difference, but readers can draw their own conclusions.
Reporters, actually reporters, questioned that assertion in the press gaggle.
Jay said that the President referred to the attack in Libya the next day, on September 12th, as an act of terror. In his public remarks that day what he said was, “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation,” which could be perceived as being a comment on the general situation in the region, not necessarily directed towards Libya specifically.
Time Magazine after this debate, called Obama's "Acts of Terror" assertion a weak reed.
But let's pass over the wording debate for a moment to get at the heart of the problem. Why was the media so desperate to bring in people like Raddatz and Crowley to control the debate?
They did it because they knew that Obama and Biden needed assistance. And that's what they provided. And they were upset at the idea that a debate could take place without one of them in control of it. Before the debate, petitions were circulated by NOW and other liberal groups upset that Candy Crowley was being silenced. But the point of a moderator is not to provide cheap liberal thrills by intervening in a debate. If you want to be heard during a presidential debate, then you need to be one of the candidates.
Candy Crowley blatantly violated the Memorandum for her own ego and for her own politics. And the fact that there will be no accountability for her misbehavior or her lying is another reminder why moderators should no longer could from the journalist class, but from a class of professionals who do not have a dog in the race.