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Critics: Crowley violated 'sacred' role of impartial moderator

By Richard Piatt | Posted - Oct. 17, 2012 at 7:55 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY - The aftermath of last night's Presidential debate includes criticism over a key moment from the moderator.

CNN's Candy Crowley interjected a comment during a discussion of the Bengazi tragedy that has some crying foul. It came as Crowley was attempting to move the debate forward amid candidates who were interrupting each other.

But to some, it came off as crossing the line to President Obama's advantage.

"My goal is to give the conversation direction and make sure questions get answered," she said.

Crowley's dedication to that goal may have broken debate protocol according to critics - mostly Mitt Romney supporters.


Candy, as a moderator, definitely crosses the line when she steps out and says, 'hey, that is correct.' You're pushing this point of fact.

–Ryan Hoagland


It came as the debate centered on the assassination of four Americans at the embassy in Bengazi, Libya, and whether the White House was forthcoming about whether or not the attack was an act of terrorism.

Crowley defended President Obama, saying, "He did call it an act of terror... It did take two weeks or so for the whole idea of there being a riot to come out, you're correct about that."

That exchange started a firestorm from critics who say Crowley stepped out of the moderator's role inappropriately. Rowland Hall's past and present debate coaches looked at the clip and concluded it violated the sacred role of an impartial moderator.

"Candy, as a moderator, definitely crosses the line when she steps out and says, 'hey, that is correct,'" said former coach Ryan Hoagland. "You're pushing this point of fact."

Rowland Hall's current debate coach, Mike Shakelford, agreed.

"I think that moment was a mistake and she knew that, just based on the fact that she tried to cover it up and say, 'you're also right, I'm still neutral,'" he said.

It was a moment that delighted Obama voters, but frustrated Romney supporters -- giving the appearance of taking sides. Crowley later denied that was the case, explaining she was just trying to move the conversation forward.

Crowley's intervention may have allowed for more context about the issue. But a lot of people say she should have left it to the candidates to duke it out, rather than interjecting herself into the conversation.

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Richard Piatt

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