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Obama & Romney camps’ pre-emptive debate complaints

by AirTalk

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CNN correspondent Candy Crowley. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for HBO

With just three weeks until Election Day, there is little the Obama and Romney campaigns can agree on. But united they stand on the role of CNN’s Candy Crowley when she moderates tomorrow night’s town hall debate.

Time magazine reports that both campaigns have complained to the Commission on Presidential Debates about comments Crowley made regarding her role as the moderator. She said on CNN last week, “Once the table is kind of set by the town hall questioner, there is then time for me to say, Hey, wait a second, what about X, Y and Z?”

However, an agreement formed on October 3 between lawyers for both campaigns stated the moderator would “not ask follow-up questions or comment on either the questions…or the answers…or otherwise intervene [other than enforcing time limits and prompting the candidates to respond].”

It’s important to note that Crowley was not included in forming this agreement nor signing it. So is she beholden to it? How worried are the campaigns really? This morning NPR’s David Folkenflik called it “preplaining” (preemptively complaining) and suggested that perceived bias can help spin the debate reviews.

Discussing the Presidential Campaigns' Complaints About Debate Moderators

Tweets from NPR's David Folkenflik regarding campaigns' complaints about moderators, which prompted Twitter conversation between Folkenflik and The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg.

Storified by 89.3 KPCC · Mon, Oct 15 2012 10:11:03

There they go again... "@HuffPostMedia: Obama & Romney campaigns complain about Candy Crowley before tomorrow's debate"David Folkenflik
@davidfolkenflik Is there any moderator in the world whose selection would cause both parties to say, "Well, that's just a perfect choice?"Jeffrey Goldberg
@JeffreyGoldberg Used to be Lehrer, actually, at least publicly. Now they preplain abt someone the two parties & campaigns agreed to.David Folkenflik
@davidfolkenflik So it's immaterial whether or not there's someone of towering probity and legendary fairness in journalism. It's all cookedJeffrey Goldberg
@JeffreyGoldberg It's beyond working the refs. It's working the crowd to be primed to believe refs are biased agst your guy in advance.David Folkenflik

How narrowly defined can, and should, the moderator’s role be? Is “preplaining” aimed at keeping Crowley in line? Why wasn’t the moderator included in forming the agreement, if s/he is expected to honor it?


David Folkenflik, Media Correspondent, National Public Radio (NPR)

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