CNN's Candy Crowley is debunking a claim pushed by the right-wing media that she walked back a fact check of Mitt Romney's remarks about the attack in Libya during the second presidential debate.
During the debate, Romney expressed disbelief that President Obama referred to the September 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi as an “act of terror” the day after the attack occurred. Crowley noted that the president did in fact use those words, and she has consistently made that same point since the debate.
Here's the exchange at the debate:
ROMNEY: I -- I think interesting the president just said something which -- which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.
OBAMA: That's what I said.
ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror.
It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you're saying?
OBAMA: Please proceed governor.
ROMNEY: 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.
OBAMA: Get the transcript.
CROWLEY: It -- it -- it -- he did in fact, sir. So let me -- let me call it an act of terror...
OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?
CROWLEY: 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.
ROMNEY: This -- the administration -- the administration indicated this was a reaction to a video and was a spontaneous reaction.
CROWLEY: It did.
Crowley was correct. The day after the attack, Obama addressed the nation from the White House Rose Garden and said:
As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it. Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.
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 four 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.
Following the debate, Crowley appeared on CNN and addressed her fact-check of Romney during the debate:
CROWLEY: Well, you know, again, I heard the president's speech at the time. I sort of re-read a lot of stuff about Libya because I knew we'd probably get a Libya question, so I kind of wanted to be up on it. So we knew that the president had said, you know, these acts of terror won't stand or whatever the whole quote was.
And I think, actually, you know, because right after that, I did turn around and say, but you are totally correct that they spent two weeks telling us this was about a tape and that there was a -- you know, this riot outside the Benghazi consulate, which there wasn't.
So he was right in the main, I just think he picked the wrong word. And I -- you know, they're going to parse and we all know about what the definition of is is, but, you know, in the end, I think John's probably right. I think there's a lot more to do with jobs and the debt crisis, and all of that kind of stuff. I just think probably it was one of those moments, and I could even feel that here.
These subsequent comments were consistent with what Crowley had said during the debate. Nevertheless, right-wing media outlets including The Daily Caller, Breitbart.com, and Fox News seized on Crowley's CNN appearance to claim that she had backtracked from what she had said during the debate.
But on Starting Point this morning, Crowley debunked this right-wing media narrative, explaining: “I didn't say anything different off the air than I said” at the debate.