Newsbusters has an article on Candy Crowley’s role in the debates, and whether she will stick to the format agreed upon by the candidates (in short, they argue she probably won’t). More important than Crowley’s activist interpretation of the word “moderator” is this tidbit from a conversation between Crowley and Howard Kurtz on Reliable Sources:
KURTZ: But briefly, you’ll know in advance what these audience members are going to ask?
CROWLEY: Yes, yes. Yes. So we’ll have seen the questions. We’ll have selected, which ones we think will push it toward some new information, sort of expanding out other subjects that they’ve touched.
In other words, the town hall debate won’t actually be a town hall. Instead, Crowley gets to pick through the questions to find the person who will ask the question she wants to ask. This is the same reason I opposed the Youtube questions in the early Republican debate. Under the guise of letting the everyman ask his question, hosts get all the editorial control without taking any of the blame.
If Crowley were to ask an obviously biased question, she would be called on it—even if only by one side. By painting on a false “town hall” veneer, Crowley gets to ask any question she wants, but the poor schlub who gets picked to read his question absorbs the bias. At worst, Crowley might get blamed for picking too many liberals—that is, if she can keep her own mouth shut.
If we’re not going to let people ask questions without pre-approval of the moderator, let’s quit pretending and have a regular debate.