Presidential debate commissioner: We only made one mistake in 2012

posted at 10:01 am on February 20, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Well, perhaps two, if one counts 2013 in the mix.  The first, according to Presidential Debate Commission chair Frank Fahrenkopf, was selecting Candy Crowley to moderate a debate in which she obviously wanted to participate instead.  The second is probably talking on the record about it.  Jon Ralston, the dean of Nevada political media, reported last night from the Las Vegas Country Club event in which Fahrenkopf offered his thoughts on a wide range of topics:

What better place than the Las Vegas Country Club, where time seems to have stopped in 1974 or so, for a group of conservatives to gather to figure out how to capture the glory days.

And what better man to deliver the message than Frank Fahrenkopf, who chaired the state and national Republican Parties during the time of The Gipper and Bush 41 and helped rebuild the GOP in Nevada and nationally. Ironically, it was almost exactly 18 years ago, sitting with Steve Wynn and others under the low ceilings and shag carpet in the same venue, that Fahrenkopf sealed the deal to become head of the American Gaming Association. …

But while this was a day for nostalgia – Fahrenkopf immediately invoked then-Sen. Paul Laxalt, the NV GOP’s godfather during halcyon times – the man who has been in DC for 30 years quickly made the point that this was not the old days. He told the group of nearly all white men that the times had changed when the good old boys could count on the color of nearly all of the folks who belonged to the LVCC in those days to win elections.

No, Fahrenkopf did not, ahem, whitewash the stark reality that has been analyzed to death since November. As he would later tell the group that he wrote in an email after the election, “It’s the Hispanics, stupid.”

Much of Fahrenkopf’s analysis has already been given by plenty of other observers, so the real takeaway is this, as Dylan Byers noted:

Fahrenkopf said he was proud of his role in helping to pick the debate moderators, but then added, shockingly I thought: “We made one mistake this time: Her name is Candy,” a reference to Candy Crowley of CNN, who absorbed hosannas from the left and brickbats from the right after she corrected Mitt Romney during the second debate.

As I wrote at the time, Crowley was the big loser of the debate, especially since she had to walk her statement back immediately afterward.

[I]f you’re going to fact check in the middle of a debate you’re moderating, you’d better be sure you have the facts straight yourself.  Otherwise, you end up having to go on your own network, where you’ve already been fact-checked in the negative, and dance your statement back[.]

Crowley had made it clear that she wouldn’t abide by the agreement (to stay out of the arguments between the candidates) with the PDC when she got the assignment.  So why didn’t Fahrenkopf replace her then, having made the big mistake?  At least according to Ralston’s notes, he didn’t explain, and it doesn’t appear that anyone asked.

Admitting the mistake now isn’t particularly helpful, not to Mitt Romney, at least.  It might serve up another news cycle of embarrassment for Crowley, but as Katie Pavlich reminds us, she later backtracked on the backtrack by claiming she was just trying to keep the conversation moving.  Don’t moderators usually do that by asking questions rather than answering them?


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Comment pages: 1 2

They jumped from third-stringer to third-stringer because the field had been thoroughly prepped for 3 years with “only Romney is electable” b.s.

ddrintn on February 20, 2013 at 2:53 PM

They jumped because Palin wasn’t there. That she didn’t run was a shock.

Gelsomina on February 20, 2013 at 3:18 PM

AGAIN you have a reading COMPREHENSION problem, because my ORIGINAL post was in RESPONSE to A ROMNEY SUPPORTER BLAMING ANTI-ROMNEYS FOR LOSING THE ELECTION FOR ROMNEY I.E., BEATING A DEAD HORSE. I got over the election just fine. You guys are the ones that can’t get over that your savior Romney lost. I didn’t bring it up… Get it.. Tator twits did.

melle1228 on February 20, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Tater Salad didn’t blame anti-Romneys for losing the election. He said that every Republican candidate would have been treated like Romney.

Read his comment again. It seems that you only read the first half of the first sentence and jumped to conclusions.

Gelsomina on February 20, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Candy is gross.

Sherman1864 on February 20, 2013 at 4:30 PM

Hate that woman.

bluegill on February 20, 2013 at 10:58 AM

…you know they are talking about a cow that grazes on the lower 48…right?

KOOLAID2 on February 20, 2013 at 5:00 PM

bluegill on February 20, 2013 at 10:58 AM

Why oh why, do you follow every reasonable comment that you ever make with“!!!ARG!!!STUPID PALIN!!!? Hmm?

S. D. on February 20, 2013 at 7:21 PM

[I]f you’re going to fact check in the middle of a debate you’re moderating, you’d better be sure you have the facts straight yourself. Otherwise, you end up having to go on your own network, where you’ve already been fact-checked in the negative, and dance your statement back[.]

Don’t know if this was stated on the first page or not, but it really didn’t matter that she had to walk the statement back; by then the damage had already been done.

AZfederalist on February 20, 2013 at 8:40 PM

Prolly already been posted…

That was a HUGE mistake.

BigWyo on February 20, 2013 at 8:41 PM

bluegill on February 20, 2013 at 10:58 AM
Why oh why, do you follow every reasonable comment that you ever make with“!!!ARG!!!STUPID PALIN!!!? Hmm?
S. D. on February 20, 2013 at 7:21 PM

I don’t have any issue with Palin. My “can’t stand that woman” comment was about Candy Crowley. As for the Palin thing, the people I really can’t stand are the Palin worshipers. These are the people who listen to Mark Levin to know what to think and who whine nonstop about “the establishment” and attack any Republican not named Palin.

bluegill on February 21, 2013 at 5:27 AM

As I wrote at the time….especially since she had to walk her statement back immediately afterward.

What a game. Even the senile old Perry Mason fans know full well that the well-honed lawyer trick is to blurt it out there to shock the jury (voters) and then retract it with a skillful “I must apologize to the court,” and the judge shrugs and instructs the jury to pretend they never heard it.
So she retracts and the world will then pretend it never heard or saw the knife go into Oromney’s back.

Walking it back is part of the act!

Don L on February 21, 2013 at 8:02 AM

I don’t have any issue with Palin. My “can’t stand that woman” comment was about Candy Crowley. As for the Palin thing, the people I really can’t stand are the Palin worshipers. These are the people who listen to Mark Levin to know what to think and who whine nonstop about “the establishment” and attack any Republican not named Palin.

bluegill on February 21, 2013 at 5:27 AM

I’ve heard you say this so many times in your own defense that it’s become like Chinese water torture..drip…drip…drip!
Goodness,get some professional help for your palin-phobia obsession and set us free.

Don L on February 21, 2013 at 8:04 AM

So let’s play the blame game instead of admitting Romney was a HUGE MISTAKE? Well, I predicted this too would happen last year.

Since when did the Republican candidates EVER get a break from ANY Liberal media personality? The answer is NEVER!

DannoJyd on February 21, 2013 at 9:08 AM

They jumped from third-stringer to third-stringer because the field had been thoroughly prepped for 3 years with “only Romney is electable” b.s.

ddrintn on February 20, 2013 at 2:53 PM

They jumped because Palin wasn’t there. That she didn’t run was a shock.

Gelsomina on February 20, 2013 at 3:18 PM

I wasn’t shocked by it at all.

ddrintn on February 21, 2013 at 9:30 AM

bluegill on February 21, 2013 at 5:27 AM

Um, yeah, your Crowley comment was the reasonable one.

S. D. on February 21, 2013 at 6:55 PM

“We made one mistake this time”

Your pants are aflame.

Liar.

S. D. on February 21, 2013 at 7:01 PM

Comment pages: 1 2