Candy Crowley botched her moderator's job in the Obama/Romney debate

Presidential debate moderator Candy Crowley not only improperly injected her opinion into the Barack Obama/Mitt Romney face-off last night, but she had her facts wrong.

The discussion was about the Obama administration’s failure to publicly acknowledge in a timely manner  that the attack on U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead on Sept. 11 was an act of terrorism. Why were members of his administration and Obama himself so long in dropping the facade that the attack was a result of mob action inspired by an offensive video about Islam?

Obama said he had called the attack an “act of terror” during remarks the next day in the Rose Garden, and Crowley agreed with him. Suddenly, Romney found himself debating two people, Obama and Crowley, who had no business correcting either candidate.

Romney looked surprised and asked Obama:

“You said in the Rose Garden, the day after the attack it was an act of terror? It was not a spontaneous demonstration? Is that what you’re saying? I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.”

Obama replied, “Get the transcript.”

Crowley then interrupted, telling Romney: “He did in fact, sir. So let me — let me call it an act of terror …”

Obama immediately recognized that he had an ally and spoke up loudly: “Can you say that a little louder, Candy?”

“He — he did call it an act of terror,” Crowley said, complying with Obama’s request.

Here the audience,  in violation of the debate rules applauded.

Crowley, perhaps immediately understanding her screw up, added:  “It did as well take — 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. You are correct about that.” Crowley said to Romney. But the damage already had been done. Crowley had blown her role as an independent moderator.

So, let’s look at the actual Rose Garden transcript and what Obama really said. Here is the relevant portion, in which Obama supposedly said it was an act of terrorism:

Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks. We mourn with the families who were lost on that day.  I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed.  And then last night we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi.

As Americans let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases lay down their lives for it.  Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those, both civilian and military, who represent us around the globe.

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.

Obama supporters assert that this was a clear statement by Obama the day after the attack that it was an act of terrorism. One can argue whether that  the last paragraph was a reference to the the consulate attacks. More credibly, one might argue that taking the entire statement in its context that Obama was talking about terrorism in general (presumably including the consulate attack). On the other side, one can argue that the antecedent was the 2001 attacks, so that’s what Obama was talking about. In any case, Obama failed to flat out call it an act of terrorism, and in that regard, Romney had him.

Such foggy statements are the currency of political debate and one side will never convince the other side.

Except for:

  • Members of Obama’s administration clearly blamed mob action for the fatal attack, not for just a day or two, but for as long as two weeks. If Obama right away was actually telling us that it was a terrorist attack, why didn’t he correct his spokespersons who were continuing the story that it was a mob attack? Why was Obama so obtuse?
  • Obama himself went into the well of the United Nations and focused on the offensive video. He did not decry the attack as an act of terrorism, leaving the impression among the delegates and the world that America, by allowing this kind of (free) speech was somehow responsible for the deaths of the four Americans.
  • Obama later said that during the attack he was immediately on the phone with his national security advisors. What did they tell him: That it was a mob action (and therefore his advisors were ignorant of what everyone else in the world could see)? Or did they tell him, as one might logically assume (since the people in the consultant were in real time contact with their higher-ups) that it was a carefully planned terrorist attack?

Those are the undeniable facts, leaving the puzzling and troubling question: Why in the world would the Obama administration officials cling to the argument that it was a mob action when it clearly was not? Or when their boss, the president, believed that it was a terrorist attack?

What did the administration have to gain by feigning such stunning ignorance?

All arrows point to…politics. Admitting that it was a well-planned terrorist attack would raise questions in the public’s mind that Obama, contrary to his suggestions, he was an anti-terrorist master demonstrated by Osama bin Laden’s death. Just before an election, admitting that terrorism still was a big problem would raise doubts about Obama’s credibility. What other reasonable explanation is there for Obama’s head-in-the sand posturing on the attack? I’d love to hear it.

On that point, I don’t buy Vice President Joe Bidden’s excuse during his debate with Paul Ryan that they “didn’t tell us”. Would Obama’s security team sit by quietly when hearing that Obama’s officials were mistakenly blaming mob action? Wouldn’t they pick up the phone and ask Obama, “Hey, your people are calling it mob action and not what it was: a terrorist attack? Do you, Mr. President, really believe that it wasn’t a terrorist attack?” We’re supposed to believe Biden that the highest levels at the White House were uninformed? Or should we believe Obama when he asserted in the Rose Garden that he knew it was a terrorist attack, but then clung to the falsehood of mob action for days and days?

To all this, Obama got on his high horse and  during the debate said  the suggestion that anyone in his administration would play politics on the issue “offensive.” For liberals like Obama, accusing someone of causing an offense is like the nuclear option–it should end all debate.

Hurt feelings or not, Obama and his administration have left reasonable people no other alternative but to believe that he was trying to avoid the political fallout of the entire episode. That’s scary

So, who is this Candy Crowley?

I guess we’re supposed to know her because she’s a CNN host–which right there makes her suspect in the eyes of a number of Americans. Here is her Wikipedia biography. Here is CNN’s biography.

She, justifiably, is under attack by folks who think she exceeded her job as a moderator. Predictably liberals rationalized her blunder and conservatives pointed it out.

Here is some of the reaction:

The Hill compiles a timeline:

A timeline compiled by The Hill shows that National Counterterrorism Center director Matthew Olsen was the first member of the Obama administration to call the Libya assault a terrorist attack, and did so during congressional testimony on Sept. 19. The next day, White House press secretary Jay Carney said it was “self-evident” that the assault was terrorism.


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  • It is unfair when you get caught in a lie, isn't it?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Which lie are you referring to? The whopper about 5 million jobs, the lies about Romney's economic plan, or the attack in Libya?

  • Your post is classic sour grapes.

  • It was Obama who got caught in a lie.

  • Sour grapes? Because Obama won the debate and that Dennis' implication is that is Candy's fault? Whether or not Obama won the debate at this point is arguable and simply an opinion. The only way we may know who won the debate is based upon the direction of the polls.

    Secondly I guess it doesn't matter what Dennis writes in his post, you'll interpret it in your own special way. The point is that Candy stepped over the line and interjected herself into the debate when she shouldn't have. This is a view shared by common-sense minded liberals and conservatives. Nowhere did Dennis claim or allude to Candy's performance impacting the overall outcome of the debate (which is a very arguable point by itself).

    But behind closed doors, I'm betting the Obama team is wishing that Candy hadn't gotten involved because now Obama's painted himself in a corner. There are a lot more questions that people are going to ask if they buy into his bull last night. To add to what Dennis said, if he did consider it a terrorist attack, why in the 9/12 Rose Garden speech did he also say, "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." If he was saying it was a terrorist attack and this speech was a jumping off point for this line of thinking, it would seem this statement is certainly out of place.

    Why did Susan Rice, Jay Carney, and the State Department Press Secretary consistently talk about a video when Obama has said in the first two days of the aftermath it was a terrorist attack? Did they decide that they were going to go out on their own and make statements that weren't consistent with the President's?

    Why didn't Obama stick with this theme (that it was a terrorist attack) in the UN? Why did the president say this in his speech to the UN, "And on this we must agree: There is no speech that justifies mindless violence. There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There’s no video that justifies an attack on an embassy." Did he change his position? He clearly is indicating that it is his belief the attack was the result of the video. This is two weeks after the attack.

    If the President did believe it was a terrorist attack on our embassy that killed four Americans including an Ambassador, why did the president spend then next day at/in route to Vegas for a campaign event?

    I can go on and on, but unless the President can rewrite history for the next foreign policy debate, he's going to have an incredibly hard time. In the days after the attack, his position is either the attack was perpetrated by terrorists or the result of a video. He can't have it both ways.

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    Let's Accept Obama Called It An "Act of Terror" - So He Knew It But Denounced Video Anyway!

    So I'm not going to challenge Obama's claim - I accept he called it an "act of terror" on Sept 12th. What I want to know is, if he knew it was terrorism, then how he can then defend the two weeks that followed - how can he and his administration, knowing that this was in fact a terrorist attack, choose to spend two weeks denouncing the video instead of denouncing the terrorists:

    See the link for an effective illustration of this:

  • In reply to Michael Davison:

    This is a wonderful debate to have in order to distract from the fact that Mitt Romney is a flat-out liar.

  • Don B. and Michael, you nailed it.

  • Oh no! Every time you're caught lying, the media is suddenly biased!

    Doesn't it get embarrassing being so predictable?

  • fb_avatar

    At the beginning of the debate it was announced that neither candidate knew the questions before the debate. None of the participating audience knows which questions will be asked. Candy Crowley is the only person who knows what questions will be asked.

    If that is true, when Romney said it took Obama 14 days to call the attack on the Embassy in Benghazi a terrorist attack. Why did Obama tell Candy Crowley to look at her transcript, before she said a word about his speech in the Rose Garden. He said "look at your transcript Candy". She then said Obama had made a speech in the Rose Garden to say it was a terrorist attack. Obama then said "louder Candy". At this point Michelle Obama started clapping trying to get the audience to clap with her.

    This is obvious Obama had the question before the debate even started. He knew there was a transcript on the question and knew how to answer it. His wife started clapping clearly wanting the audience to know Obama had made that speech in the Rose Garden. How did he know there even was a transcript on his speech. This smells like a rat to me. When did he get the question and who did he work it out with before the debate?????

  • This reminds me of the sore losers who blame their team's loss on the referee.

  • Earth to Randy: The transcript Obama was referring to was the transcript from the Rose Garden speech the day after the event. Settle down with your conspiracy theories, Randy.

  • John Arguello, InterestedObserver, Dan Bradley, you nailed it with a nail gun!

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