If authentic, CNN’s memo explaining why Candy Crowley permitted President Obama to speak four minutes more than Mitt Romney during Tuesday’s presidential debate is devastating to that network:
On why Obama got more time to speak, it should be noted that Candy and her commission producers tried to keep it even but that Obama went on longer largely because he speaks more slowly. We’re going to do a word count to see whether, as in Denver, Romney actually got more words in even if he talked for a shorter period of time.
One of Crowley’s main jobs as moderator was to enforce the rules that were established for the debate. The rules established time limits, not word limits.
When I debated in high school and college, we had to stop speaking when our time ran out. It didn’t matter how many words we had gotten in (I wish it did when I debated John in practice rounds). When, as a lawyer, I argued cases before Courts of Appeals, I had to sit down when my time was up. It didn’t matter whether my opponent had uttered more words in his or her alloted time.
CNN’s explanation of “why Obama got more time to speak” is an admission that Crowley intentionally gave Obama extra time because she thought he hadn’t said enough. It’s also an admission that it doesn’t know whether, objectively, Romney said more than Obama in the same amount of time. CNN hadn’t done a word count when it made the claim, and Crowley certainly hadn’t performed one when she gave Obama more time than Romney.
Crowley was, however, watching the time, as she told the candidates several times. As the CNN memo confirms, she wanted to give Obama more time than Romney.
This is just one reason why Crowley should not be permitted to moderate another high-stakes debate. Indeed, assuming the authenticity of the CNN memo, no one from that outfit should be permitted to do so.