Before I get to my comments for Mrs. Crowley, let us not lose in the kerfuffle what actually happened last night.
The President of the United States stood before the American people and lied about a terrorist attack on 9/11.
There seems to be some confusion in the media as to the ‘narrative’ of the debate. The story, my friends in the media IS NOT about what Mrs. Crowley did or did not do. The story is NOT about what the Romney campaign needs to do next. The story is not about you in the media or the campaign.
The story -that you all are collectively ignoring- is that the President of the United States lied to the American people about a terrorist attack. And it’s not open to interpretation. He said he called it a terrorist attack and he did not. (It’s not even ambiguous, you can read the full speech here.)
Which brings me to Mrs. Crowley.
Mrs. Crowley, you owe Governor Romney not one but two apologies. First you skipped him on a rebuttal and when he called you on it you told him he was wrong. As a debate moderator, there is no higher responsibility than getting that right.
Second, by fact checking him on the fly -incorrectly- you may have actually changed the outcome of this race. It is scarey to think that in an important election like this, your bonehead play could be the difference.
I expected you to issue an apology after the debate and frankly, you did the only thing worse than not apologizing at all. You admitted Romney was right but you then blamed him for your screw up.
So it is Mr. Romney’s fault because he ‘chose the wrong word.’ You are the one choosing the wrong words Mrs. Crowley. The words you need to say are “I’m sorry, I screwed up.”
We don’t have the numbers yet but somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 million people saw you fact check Romney incorrectly… Far far fewer saw your non-apology apology.
You can not undue the damage you have done to Mr. Romney, and -more importantly- to the American people.
The least you can do is apologize.