UPDATE: Video: Crowley Admits Romney Was Right on Libya.Running interference for the President. [Link]
Related: Krauthammer: Candy Crowley Was Essentially Wrong and Contaminated the Argument.
Also: Video: Candy Crowley Jumps from the Bench to Tackle Mitt as he Races for a Touchdown.
How bad is it? MSNBC Undecided Voter Panel Leans More Toward Romney After Debate.
Another debate, another debacle for America’s media.The verdict? [Link]
In the runup to the second presidential debate, CNN’s Candy Crowley declared that she would not just be a “fly on the wall” as she played the tiny role of moderator, that she would step in whenever she chose to say, “Hey, wait a second, what about X, Y, Z?”
And boy did she, cutting off Republican Mitt Romney repeatedly and often throwing the floor to President Obama with an open “let me give the president a chance here.”
More, she alone decided the topics for the debate, picking questions from the 80 so-called “undecided” voters chosen by the Gallup polling organization. Her selections were tailor-made for Mr. Obama — Mitt Romney’s tax plan, women’s rights and contraception, outsourcing, immigration, the Libya debacle (which gave Mr. Obama to finally say that the buck stops with him, not, as Hillary Clinton said, with her).
She even chose this question, directed to both men: “I do attribute much of America’s economic and international problems to the failings and missteps of the Bush administration. Since both of you are Republicans, I fear the return to the policies of those years should you win this election. What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush, and how do you differentiate yourself from George W. Bush?”
Obama did not forfeit the debate as last time, and took his cue from Joe Biden in interrupting and muttering while Romney spoke, so his energy made it an entertaining night. Nevertheless, the same theme as in Denver emerged — Romney more often providing specific proposals and detailed critiques, and Obama preferring more often emoting and running more on hypotheticals, as if he were not an incumbent with a depressing record that he is obligated to defend.A key moment was Libya, and that is bad for the Obama cause, even if Romney let Obama slightly off the hook. Obama frowned and got defensive and then blew it by disingenuous explanations — claiming that almost immediately after the attack, he had labeled it an act of terrorism, omitting that on numerous occasions in the next two weeks he most certainly did not say that clearly at all, and declared either that it was the fault of a video or that he did not have enough information. Libya and oil-and-gas are losing issues for Obama; both are central to national security and they will be the center of the next debate. Obama’s argument that private drillers produced more oil and gas despite rather than because of his policies is not a winner.
I think the debate was a draw, and so Romney’s ascendance may well continue. Obama did better than in Denver and will energize his base by his competitiveness, but not better to the degree that he arrests Romney’s momentum or wins back independents. Next-day reflection, fact-checking, and selecta-quotes, as in the case of the VP debate, may well favor the Republican. Romney did well despite once again being given less talk time, an inept moderator, and a silly town-hall forum.