Bozell Column: Candy Crowley Self-Destructs

October 18th, 2012 11:08 PM

Just how badly did CNN’s Candy Crowley destroy her first (and hopefully last) attempt as a presidential debate moderator? More than 65 million people saw that she is to debate moderation as CNN is to “news.” 

Barack Obama made a fatal mistake when he lied, claiming he’d labeled the Libya attack as an act of terrorism. The look on Romney’s face said it all: Mr. President, here comes checkmate.

Then Crowley leapt to Obama’s defense, declared a lie a truth, changed the subject, and Obama was free.

It was a travesty. 

Let’s get beyond the perennial partisan toe-taggers Rachel Maddow (touting Romney’s “political disaster”) and Ed Schultz (“The president destroyed Mitt Romney on foreign policy”) who credited Obama. Look at those who gave the bouquet to Crowley for saving Obama.  

That night on PBS, John Heilemann of New York magazine insisted the subject of Libya would have been disastrous for Obama. “The worst hand that the administration and President Obama have to play in this debate was on Benghazi, and because particularly of Candy Crowley’s follow-up on that question, it allowed Barack Obama to win an exchange that I didn't necessarily think it was possible for him to win.”

Obama shouldn’t have won, but Crowley saved him. 

The next morning, Current TV host Eliot Spitzer told Current TV host Bill Press that Crowley caused the “emotional highlight of the night” by declaring Romney was wrong. “I think that really deflated what otherwise should have been on the Benghazi issue a moment when Romney could have hit it out of the park. But instead he took the step too far. Crowley came in  as sort of the voice of neutrality and took the victory away from Romney.”

Crowley crushed Romney. Even Spitzer wouldn’t defend Crowley as staying within a moderator’s role. 

Crowley knew exactly what she’d done: validate a lie. Time for damage control. Within minutes of leaving the journalistic crime scene, Crowley was back on CNN admitting that Romney was right “in the main” – whatever that means – but he chose “the wrong word” by focusing on Obama’s cursory use of the term “these acts of terror.” If Romney was correct, why not just say it?   

Again, Crowley rallied behind Obama – even repeating her verdict when the president egged her on to “say it a little louder.”

So let’s say it a little louder: Team Obama engaged in a massive coverup, hiding and denying what it knew about this deadly terrorist attack for weeks. Even Heilemann and Spitzer admit that this scandal should be a “home run” for Romney. Journalists know that the White House lied horribly day after day – and – with a few exceptions – have enabled that badly disguised coverup.  Obama claimed nobody cares about finding the facts more than he does. It’s lie after lie at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Crowley knows full well that it’s Team Obama that needs to be held accountable here, not the challenger. Back on September 30, Crowley herself pinned down Obama spinner David Axelrod on this point: “Why did it take them until Friday [September 28], after a September 11 attack in Libya, to come to the conclusion that it was premeditated and that there was terrorists involved? John McCain said it doesn't pass the smell test, or it's willful ignorance to think that they didn't know before this what was going on.” Of course, Axelrod shot back that Obama in the Rose Garden called it an “act of terror.”

How does Crowley square her October 16 performance with her September 30 performance? Try this theory: after liberals savaged Jim Lehrer as “useless” for somehow allowing Obama’s first-debate fiasco, they’ve successfully worked the refs, both Crowley and Martha Raddatz, to push back at the "lies" of the Republicans.  

Journalists now know Obama lied repeatedly about protests outside the consulate in Benghazi. In a September 20 interview with Univision, Obama said of Libya, “I don't want to speak to something until we have all the information. What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.”

There were no “natural protests.” The story line had changed the day before when Matthew Olsen of the National Counterterrorism Center cracked under congressional questioning and said “the facts that we have now indicate that this was an opportunistic attack.” On the 20th, Obama spokesman Jay Carney suddenly jerked his knee and declared “It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.” 

“Self-evident”? If so, then Team Obama is guilty, period. 

Instead, so many in the shameless media are still trying to pin the tail on Romney. They’ll do anything to re-elect Obama. Just ask Candy Crowley.