CNN's Candy Crowley ventured into dangerous territory last night, briefly playing the role of live fact-checker while moderating the feisty presidential title card.
"Unless a moderator is going to offer live fact-checking of both candidates, she should steer clear of that," said Peter Ubertaccio of Stonehill College. "Moderating a debate shouldn't be confused with analyzing what the candidate is saying."
It started when Republican challenger Mitt Romney claimed it took President Obama days to call the assault on the Libyan consulate an "act of terror."
Not true, charged Obama, claiming he did so the next day.
Crowley backed up Obama, saying he did, in fact, use that phrase the next day.
"Say that a little louder?" Obama responded.
Crowley told CNN after the debate that she knew Obama called it an act of terror because she heard him that day.
"I was trying to bring some kind of clarity to the conversation," said Crowley.
Crowley had promised to hold the candidates accountable to the audience's questions in the hours before last night's debate.
At times, the candidates simply trampled over Crowley's verbal stop signs, plowing on to make their points -- but she was no Jim Lehrer.
Before the debate, pundits sided with Crowley, arguing that forcing the candidates to actually answer questions wasn't too much to ask.
"My view is if they're trying to be the most powerful person in the world, maybe they ought to be able to stand up for 90 minutes and answer questions," said Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia.
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