Candy Crowley: The First Woman to Moderate a Presidential Debate in 20 Years

Monday, September 24, 2012

As the host of CNN's State of the Union and the network's chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley has made a career of holding politicians accountable. In her decades of experience as a political reporter, Crowley has covered every president from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama, but a new challenge awaits her this political season.

On October 16, Crowley will moderate the second presidential debate between Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. She is the first woman to serve as moderator since 1992, when Carole Simpson refereed between then-Governor Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, and President George Bush.

But Crowley says that, when asked to do the debate, she did not think of her gender as being particularly significant. "We all bring a prism to the table," she says. Crowley cites the fact that she is from the Midwest and the fact that she has a brother who fought in Vietnam as other factors that might affect the kind of questions she asks. Still, she says she understands better now why some women have been so thrilled to hear that the moderator of this debate would be female, and why three students in New Jersey petitioned to have female moderators this year. "Even if I ask the exact same questions — and I won't — that Bob Schieffer does or that Jim Lehrer does or, by the way, that Martha Raddatz does, the optics of having someone up there who is female matters. And I'm not sure I actually knew the extent of that before."

And speaking of the optics of television, it would be easy for Crowley to be intimidated. Crowley admits that she has had this fear, but the advice that she always gives to young people, she says, is this: "No matter what you choose to do, be so good they can't ignore you."


Candy Crowley

Produced by:

Maggie Penman, Elizabeth Ross and Jillian Weinberger

Comments [4]

VJ from USA


I watch your segments on CNN & find you very alert, intelligent & always looking for truth in every situation very honestly without much political bias. Hope you use the same in the upcoming 2nd pesidential debate of 2012. I am intrigued that none of the two candidates have identified the root cause of real problem of fiscal cliff which is mostly trade deficit with CHINA. China is lending money to USA & others by grossly violating anti-dumping laws of USA & other western countries creating high unemployment globally. Instead of addressing this problem directly with China, every country is turning inwards and blaming themselves dividing their own counttries into pieces. Why can't they see the big picture of what China is doing globally. They all can refuse to payback the loans they took from China as a penalty for doing so & forget about the deficit altogether.

Oct. 06 2012 08:49 AM
Dona McIntyre from Baldwinsville, NY

Whomever succeeds in this election will be President of the United States, not the Republican voters, Democratic voters, Independent voters or the no-voters. How will you get this country back to a place where we can disagree and yet work together to truly govern our country? How will you help us to insure that we have in place regulations that make sure our financial sectors are working in the best interests of this country. How will you help the middle class get back the American Dream of Success?

Sep. 25 2012 03:58 PM
larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

The biggest issue for me is the lack of cooperation between the two parties, so I would ask,

"The American people are frustrated because they feel our Government never can get anything done because of Partisanship. If your side loses this election, what will you do personally to convince your Party to work in the interests of the American Public and not in the interests of your own Political Party?

Sep. 24 2012 09:53 AM

This story is such a fabulous insight into public radio and much of today's mainstream media.

Fetishistically concerned about "diversity"; at least in terms of gender, race and particular religions (Islam, etc).

And completely oblivious -- even sneeringly dismissive -- of ideological diversity.

It is impossible for me to avoid thinking of's election-year polling of its staff, as to how they all will vote in Presidential contests. Every year since 2000, the Slate staff is around 90%-95% Democrat. And I presume that it is much the same at CNN, PBS, and all of the other major networks headquartered in New York. I am guessing that the WNYC staff is about 100% Democratic.

I dare anybody to prove me wrong.

And to tell me, how they would feel, if any of those institutions were 95% male, or 95% white. Or conversely, 95% female or 95% black. Would they be thought of as anything other than special interest groups?

It would appear that Ms. Crowley is partly correct. Some (but only some) optics matter. Race and gender are optics that matter, and that serve the interest of promoting a kind of superficial diversity, when the mainstream media's pervasive bias -- political ideology among the bi-coastal media elites in the news editing and reporting industry -- is completely overlooked.

Sep. 24 2012 09:43 AM

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