There have already been some big shakeups at CNN since the ascension of former NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker to the top of the network, and apparently that trend is continuing — one of their most prominent, longtime voices is now headed for the exits. According to an internal memo sent out by Zucker to staff Friday, veteran political correspondent Candy Crowley is leaving CNN after 27 years on the job, a tenure in the realm of TV news that somewhat boggles the mind. For some perspective, Crowley joined CNN when Ronald Reagan was in office, and CNN was still an indisputably dominant power in the TV news scene, nearly a decade before the rise of MSNBC and Fox News, and the advent of the cable news wars.
Since joining CNN, Crowley's covered countless issues, scandals, fracases and memorable moments — it's strangely easy to forget we actually had a president impeached over that time, isn't it? — and in 2010, she took over as the host of Sunday talk show State of the Union, following former host John King.
Perhaps her most publicly visible moment, however, was in 2012, when she was tabbed to moderate CNN's presidential debate between President Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. If you're a political junkie, and you followed the 2012 campaign at all closely, you probably remember the moment I'm talking about — Crowley essentially did a real-time fact check on Romney, countering his claim that Obama hadn't called the Benghazi consulate attack an "act of terror."
While Crowley's impartiality as a political observer is well-documented, and there's no doubt she had no intention of tipping the scales, her interjection thwarted what looked like an easy line of attack for Romney, regardless of whether it was true (Crowley, for the record, was correct). Under most circumstances, even if Romney had been making a point that wasn't factually accurate, the reticence of most moderators to jump in and correct the record would've allowed for the attack line to be deployed without incident, and it's always harder to correct the record after the fact. But Crowley's interjection visibly rankled Romney, not a good look on a national debate stage, and led to fevered criticism from conservative pundits and Republican surrogates alike.
Zucker hailed Crowley's memorable career in his staff memo, calling her "a television news icon" who "lives and breathes politics."
It'll be interesting to see what the future holds for Crowley. Wherever she ends up landing, whether she wants to keep working in political reporting, or opts for some well-deserved time off, our hat's off to her.
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