The CNN reporter, Candy Crowley, who moderated Tuesday night's presidential debate at Hofstra University has joined the ranks of journalists inside the "liberal media" that the right-wing echo chamber will forever smear, slime, and loathe. The Republicans, along with their formidable propaganda outlets, Fox News and AM Talk Radio, have their knickers in a bunch because Ms. Crowley fact-checked their beloved candidate, Mitt Romney during the night's most heated exchange. The hate brigades have taken aim at Ms. Crowley not because she showed "bias" or was "wrong" about the facts or exceeded the role of moderator, but because she performed a genuine act of journalism in front of 65 million viewers.
Ms. Crowley's crime in the eyes of the right is that she for one brief moment did what every journalism department at every university in America teaches their students to do: Keep the record straight and do not allow politicians to use you as a prop for self-serving lies. Crowley doing her job has caused more "Chaos on Bullshit Mountain" inside the right's echo chamber since David Corn of Mother Jones magazine first released the now historic "47 percent" video capturing Romney dissing half the country to a closed-door audience of millionaires and billionaires.
The real reason why the right has become so unhinged over Candy Crowley's journalistic moment was best summed up 28 years ago by the campaign of Vice President George H. W. Bush following his historic debate with New York Representative Geraldine Ferraro, the first ever woman on a major party's ticket. When members of the press did their jobs and later fact-checked many of the statements that Bush made during the debate and found them incorrect, misleading, or outright lies, Bush's press secretary responded:
You can say anything you want in a debate, and 80 million people hear it. If reporters then document that a candidate spoke untruthfully, so what? Maybe 200 people read it, or 2,000 or 20,000. (Quoted in The Eighties, p. 55)
The Romney campaign, taking its lead from the way earlier Republican campaigns viewed debates, simply believed he would have free rein to say anything he wanted in front of the enormous TV audience. And when any fact-checking trickled in showing he had willfully gotten his facts wrong for political gain, (such as accusing President Obama of not calling the Benghazi attack an "act of terror," which he did), it wouldn't matter because the lie would have already served its purpose -- planting the seeds of doubt and scoring points in the minds of 65 million viewers. Plus, the Fox noise machine could easily bury any new exposures of Romney's incessant lying after the debate under yet another mountain of very loud and very partisan bullshit.
So the real cause for this latest Republican whine-fest is that Ms. Crowley did her job as a journalist, showed respect for the need in a democracy for an informed electorate, and would not allow either candidate to lie in front of such a large audience of voters.