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Candy Crowley: First Female Debate Moderator in 20 Years Has Faced Discrimination Throughout Her Career

Candy Crowley, CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent and the host of the Sunday morning talk show State of the Union, will walk into Hofstra University Tuesday night and assume her role as moderator of the second presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney. Crowley is the first female moderator in two decades.  

Crowley is an award-winning journalist with impeccable credentials. She won an Emmy award in 2003 for her work on CNN Presents Enemy Within. She has received awards for covering Bill Clinton, Bob Dole and Ronald Reagan. In 2005, she won the Edward R. Murrow award and the Joan Shorenstein Barone Award for excellence in journalism for her reporting on the 2004 presidential election. Crowley is a critical and pivotal member of CNN’s award-winning election coverage team including the team that won the 2008 Peabody Award and the 2006 Emmy award.

Crowley is well–respected in and around Washington. She has covered practically every major story in Washington over the past 20 years. She has been seen on TV as a correspondent for the last 25 years. Crowley is not your stereotypical news anchor. She is not just a “newsreader.” Amongst her peers she is known as the go-to person for detail. In an article for The Daily Herald, documentarian, Alexandra Pelosi, the daughter of Minority House Leader Nancy Pelosi, calls Crowley, “the Cliff Notes for all reporters.”  She said, "They talk about those things that nobody reads – nobody reads bills. But Candy does. She reads all of that stuff. She reads everything. On the bus, everyone would just go to her and ask her, 'Candy, so what's this bill about?”

Crowley has been covering presidential elections for over 30 years. 

She was granted an exclusive in person interview with President George W. Bush just prior to Bush leaving office. 

According to her CNN bio, Crowley has covered the presidential campaigns of Pat Buchanan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, Bob Dole, Jesse Jackson, Edward Kennedy, John Kerry, Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan, among others. In 2009, she earned the Gracie Allen Award for coverage of Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House.

Her CNN bio says Crowley began her broadcast journalism career in Washington, D.C., as a newsroom assistant for Metromedia radio station WASH. She served as White House correspondent for the Associated Press, where she covered most of the Reagan era before moving on to NBC-TV to become a general assignment correspondent in NBC’s Washington bureau. She came to CNN from NBC News in 1987.

Crowley’s background also includes the typical struggle that woman have over control of their image in the media. Her stellar career was reduced to tabloid curiosity when she began to live healthier and lost a noticeable amount of weight. In a 2009 article from the Los Angeles Times, Crowley said, "It's stunning to me that something I consider so separate and apart from what I do for a living has taken up so much space in some people's thoughts. I am a hard-news journalist. That is what I do." The LA Times says of Crowley, “[She] can count herself in a select company of women — Andrea Mitchell and Lesley Stahl are also in the club — whose news careers on national TV continue to flourish into middle age.” Maureen Dowd of the New York Times said, “If excellent journalism was the top priority, then Candy Crowley would be in line for an anchor position.”

Of course that prediction was realized when in 2010, Crowley was named anchor of her own Sunday morning talk show, CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley.

Crowley is known as a “no-nonsense,” “straight-shooter” whose personal politics are largely unknown. There will not be any suggestion from the conservative media that Crowley is less than objective or has a past relationship with Obama as was suggested of Martha Raddatz. In fact conservatives should be encouraged that Crowley has taken an opposing position on the Romney tax meme. In a discussion on her show with Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Crowley actually said, "It is the IRS system and he took advantage of it which I do, which I assume both of you do"

And if there is still any doubt as to Crowley non-partisanship, both parties have expressed concern over her intent to control the debate in a way that may or may not conform to the debate rules. Mark Halperin wrote, “In a rare example of political unity, both the Romney and Obama campaigns have expressed concern to the Commission on Presidential Debates about how the moderator of this Tuesday’s town hall has publicly described her role.” At question is Crowley’s intent to broaden her role to not just include time management but also to broaden the discussion as she sees fit, including follow-up questions and steering the direction of the discussion.

On the Mediaite Power Grid, Crowley is ranked #22, sandwiched between 60 Minutes Morley Safer and CBS’ Sharyl Attkinson. Mediaite says the Power Grid is an objective ranking of roughly 1,500 known and important players in the media today, divided into categories including Media Moguls, TV Anchors and Hosts, Magazine Editors, Print and Online Editors, and Top TV Executives.

Crowley has 2 children and 2 stepchildren. Her oldest child is a neurosurgeon and her youngest son plays in a band (Vynette). According to a Q & A at allthingsandersoncooper.com, her step-daughter dabbles at being a news producer and her step-son lives in Kansas with his three children.

Crowley's career and accomplishments are a testament to hard work and drive. When asked if she had ever faced discrimination, Crowley said, “At my first place of work, the general manager told me that audiences would never accept a woman’s voice as the voice of authority. I’m not kidding, and it wasn’t even the Dark Ages.”

Now on the eve of her landmark achievement, this female moderator of the presidential debates — while the Supreme Court deliberates over the fate of affirmative action and while women, particularly young women continue to battle the stereotypes and stigmas associated with body image — Candy Crowley, will stand on the stage with two of the most powerful men in the world, with an audience approaching 60 million people worldwide, and she will be able to look that general manager in the face and say, “How do you like me now?”

For live updates of tonight's presidential debate, follow along here

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