Conceivably the biggest moment in Tuesday's presidential debate was when moderator Candy Crowley injected herself into the discussion siding with Barack Obama on remarks he claimed he made in the Rose Garden following the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Long-time Democrat campaign strategist Joe Trippi said on Fox News shortly after the debate's conclusion that this looked like "the ref just threw the flag" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
JOE TRIPPI: I do think you’ll see, or should see the Romney people push back on the Libya thing because I think Candy Crowley, when the moderator said, admonished him to read the transcript, that kind of pushes, makes it look like, well, that there’s a ref, and the ref just threw the flag. So I think that’s going to help the President.
It certainly helped the President because the moderator actually took sides.
Politico's Dylan Byers posted a video and a transcript of the exchange:
"I think it's interesting the president just said something, which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror," Romney said.
"That's what I said," Obama replied.
"You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror," said Romney. "It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you're saying?"
"Please proceed governor," said Obama.
"I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror," said Romney.
"Get the transcript," Obama replied.
For the first time during the debate, Crowley moved to correct one of the candidates.
"He did, in fact, sir. So let me -- let me call it an act of terror..."
"Can you say that a little louder, Candy?" Obama asked.
"He -- he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take -- it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that," Crowley clarified.
Was Crowley correct? Did Obama actually call it an act of terror? Here's the relevant portion of the transcript (emphasis added):
No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.
Today we mourn for more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.
But we also know that the lives these Americans led stand in stark contrast to those of their attackers. These four Americans stood up for freedom and human dignity. They should give every American great pride in the country that they served, and the hope that our flag represents to people around the globe who also yearn to live in freedom and with dignity.
We grieve with their families, but let us carry on their memory and let us continue their work in seeking a stronger America and a better world for all of our children.
Thank you. May God bless the memory of those we lost, and may God bless the United States of America.
As you can see, Obama said, "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this nation."
However, he didn't specifically call this incident an act of terror, and his administration went on for days if not weeks claiming it was a protest over an anti-Muslim movie trailer.
Regardless, was it Crowley's place as moderator of a debate to be acting as fact-checker, or did she live down to many of our worst expectations?