According to a CNN source, Mark Whitaker, CNN’s managing editor, kicked off yesterday’s morning editorial conference call by leading a round of applause for Crowley’s work. Crowley wasn’t in on the call, which includes CNN bureaus in Atlanta, D.C. and New York, because she was headed for an appearance on ABC’s “The View.”
Within CNN, says the source, acclaim for Crowley’s performance has been unanimous. As for the pivotal moment when Crowley chose to fact-check Mitt Romney on the spot regarding whether President Obama had called Benghazi an “act of terror,” a CNN source says Crowley was all over the nitty gritty of that dispute. She had discussed it internally at CNN prior to taking the stage at Hofstra University the other night, says the source. Crowley has been panned, in the view of many at CNN, for committing an act of journalism.
The mood of CNN management regarding the affair is summed up in a Whitaker memo to CNN staffers that TMZ has posted :
“Let’s start with a big round of applause for Candy Crowley for a superb job under the most difficult circumstances imaginable. She and her team had to select and sequence questions in a matter of hours, and then she had to deal with the tricky format, the nervous questioners, the aggressive debaters, all while shutting out the pre-debate attempts to spin and intimidate her. She pulled it off masterfully.
The reviews on Candy’s performance have been overwhelmingly positive but Romney supporters are going after her on two points, no doubt because their man did not have as good a night as he had in Denver. On the legitimacy of Candy fact-checking Romney on Obama’s Rose Garden statement, it should be stressed that she was just stating a point of fact: Obama did talk about an act (or acts) of terror, no matter what you think he meant by that at the time. 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.”
Internal reviews of beloved colleagues invariably exaggerate. Crowley was very good, though not masterful. The pet gripe of this blog is that she allowed President Obama to walk away without having responded to an unambiguous question about Libya security. Her fact-checking, on the other hand, was not only appropriate but necessary: If she hadn’t stepped in, Romney might still be on that stage litigating Obama’s Rose Garden statements.
In addition to learning a lot about what President Obama did and didn’t say about Libya, the public has learned that Crowley can handle herself, thank you very much. Which casts a tinge of desperation and overkill on Whitaker’s little memo.