Kevin Fobbs
Should Candy Crowley be penalized for presidential debate misconduct
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By Kevin Fobbs
October 20, 2012

With the continuing furor erupting concerning the highly partisan nature displayed by Candy Crowley during the second presidential debate, the real question has evaded the American voter. Who is truly responsible for acts of journalistic misconduct and what should be done when a debate moderator decides to go rogue, as Crowley did in favoring Obama?

The Commission on Presidential Debates is the organization which sponsors the presidential and vice presidential debates and it claims that these debates will be conducted in "a professional and nonpartisan manner."

Presidential Debate Commission Rules:

" (c) With respect to all questions...


(iv) The moderator will not ask follow-up questions or comment on either the questions asked by the audience or the answers of the candidates during the debate or otherwise intervene in the debate except to acknowledge the questioners from the audience or enforce the time limits,"

Crowley deliberately and intentionally broke the agreed upon rules, and decided as Obama has decided during the course of his administration, that rules don't apply and the ends justify the means.

So, what recourse do the American people have when a journalist is selected who openly ignores the rules in conducting the debate and in comments leading up to the debate? What happens when the journalist moderator interjects herself into the debate, in order to blunt a candidate's momentum, as Crowley did to republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney?

The easy answer is to say; simply that Republicans and GOP candidates who are the favorite targets of biased coverage in the mainstream media should just grit their teeth and bare it. But that is not what the American public needs to see or should have to endure. If a presidential debate commission purports to field "unbiased reporters" who are going to be fair and balanced moderators, then failing to do so should result in a penalty, and or permanent suspension of the reporter and their affiliated network from future participation in debates.

According to the national Verified Voting Foundation, in 2012 there are approximately 180,802,372 registered voters in America. Voters are entitled to see a debate that is free from a moderator who appears to purposely steer a debate, to benefit the incumbent president Obama. Crowley's behavior becomes even more suspect when one considers that Obama was increasingly losing ground to the republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Did CNN senior political reporter Candace Crowley conduct herself in a professional and nonpartisan manner? Examine her earlier statement, when she announced that she would evade and ignore the professional rules of journalistic conduct, and inject herself into the presidential debate if and when she saw fit. So one has to question, who judges the moderators when moderators declare that they are above the rules as Crowley did?

Examine the facts and you be the judge.

During the course of the 90-minute debate, Crowley allowed Obama to misuse the debate clock as if it was his own private football game. Instead of being fair and balanced, the clearly partisan Crowley allowed Obama 42 minutes and 40 seconds to make his points, while penalizing Romney constantly, with 28 interruptions. Her constant disruptions appeared to attempt to break Romney's concentration and debate pace, leaving him at a deficit with 38 minutes and 14 seconds.

Crowley even allowed applause during the debate when Obama made debate points, against her own moderator rules she announced before the debate. In fact, at one point, when Michelle Obama and other Obama supporters in the audience applauded, she issued no warnings of any kind.

Again, the question has to be, where is the enforcement mechanism when a debate moderator decides to go rouge? Are 180 million plus voters simply shackled to a system where a Presidential Debate Commission remains silent when one of its selected moderators openly and brazenly announces, she will not stick by the rules?

It's possible that the American people can supply the answer. Just as Congress has allowed taxpayers to devote a $1 to offset presidential funding of campaigns, perhaps a dime, per taxpayer can be donated to offset paying for fair and balanced debates. Open up the moderating of the debates to regional journalists as well as "Joe the Plumber" type everyday people to tag-team with journalist moderators.

If a moderator like a Crowley goes off of the reservation by announcing as Crowley did that she would make her own rules of engagement, then replace her right on the spot. The network or news organization that the moderator is affiliated with would be penalized for one election cycle by disallowing its reporters from participation in presidential primary or general election debates.

American voters deserve better than to have their vote and the nation's future steered and diverted by bias purposeful conduct. Perhaps Crowley was hoping that she could pump some energy into staving off the plummeting viewership at CNN, where her network has suffered a reported 42 percent drop in the past year. CNN is hemorrhaging severe viewership loss, according to a measurement taken in June, which found that its daily ratings were at their lowest in over a decade.

Well, Candy, it did not work. The attempt to shut down Romney's message of economic recovery and job creation got pass her maneuvering. The proof is in the snap polls conducted by Crowley's own network, where registered voters who were polled gave Romney high marks in several key domestic areas.

The CNN poll gave Romney higher ratings, in who would handle the economy better with his 58% over Obama's 40%. Romney also topped the president with a 59 % rating on the question of who would handle the escalating annual trillion dollar deficits, to Obama's anemic 36 %. Romney even beat Obama when debate viewers gave Romney a 51% compared to Obama's 44 % when it came to who would handle taxes better.

So in this instance, the viewers decided that despite Crowley's attempt to rig the debate, America and it viewers were not biting. Yet, the reality of future debates and future moderators has to be dealt with seriously and openly. While CNN's brass has already issued a statement stressing they would stand behind Crowley's conduct, American voters do not have to.

The Presidential Debate Commission has to either end this gentlemen's agreement to look the other way when moderators avoid or refuse to enforce the rules in a professional and nonpartisan manner, or be replaced by a system that is fair, balanced and unafraid.

After all, American voters deserve to hear an open fair debate or perhaps voters will create their own. In 2009 the Tea Party Patriots did it in waking up America to a new and more vibrant political movement. In 2012, perhaps Crowley's misconduct is just the right act that tips the scale. America is ready; to be unshackled from liberal media moderator misconduct and candidate intimidation.

Let the Patriot Debates Movement begin.

© Kevin Fobbs

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Kevin Fobbs

Kevin Fobbs is founder and president of a policy organization called National Urban Policy Action Council (NuPac), www.nupac.info that supports conservative colorblind solutions to universal issues and domestic policies that impact urban America... (more)

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