When a list of presidential debate moderators started spreading all over Twitter this morning, one thing in particular really stuck out: There’s a woman on the list. Candy Crowley, host of CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ talk show, will be the first female to moderate a presidential debate in 20 years, at least according to Politico. We hope Politico’s sources are right; aside from being an extremely well-qualified and experienced journalist, she’s also just a really kick-ass woman who’s primed to be one of our favorite parts of the debates.
Crowley is a veteran reporter who’s been reporting on campaigns since before the last time a woman moderated the debates, but she’s also got a lot of other great stuff going for her, aside from her gender. Here are just a few of the reasons we’re excited to see her be involved in this year’s debates:
Crowley told Rachel Ray that she stopped eating meat after a gristly meal on the campaign trail in 1988, and while eating a plant-based diet doesn’t really make you a better reporter, per se, her diet is something she’s conscious of as part of a holistic health approach that includes getting enough sleep and maintaining a healthy weight, and that’s always a good starting point when you’re headed into a hectic few months of work.
She’s also into transcendental meditation, something she says helps keep her calm in the midst of a stressful work environment every day. She told the Washington Post:
It’s a hard thing to describe, but I find that my thought is clearer. I still get mad. I still get upset. But I let it go more quickly.
Clear thinking can only be a good thing in a moderator, right?
She’s gracefully handled past discussions about her weight.
We hate to get cynical here, but it seems to be a sad reality that if you’re a woman in the spotlight, your looks and body are up for debate (just check the sad media coverage of the Olympics this year, or ask any woman who’s worked in politics, ever). We hope Crawley dodges that bullet this year, but when she faced speculations about her weight loss in 2009, she proved that she can weather that kind of storm with serious grace. She first told the L.A. Times:
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.
…which is pretty much the perfect thing to say. But she also followed up with some illuminating thoughts on her weight and health, explaining that the weight loss wasn’t due to a drastic diet or weight-loss surgery, but a year spent devoted to rebalancing her health after the 2004 election:
“With the election over, if I can borrow from Anderson Cooper, I wanted to take a 360-degree look at my life and say ‘What would make it better,’ ” Crowley said. “That may sound touchy-feely, but that’s what I did.”
“I feel great physically. I feel really good,” the newswoman told me Tuesday. “I’m lighter now in a lot of ways.”
Plus, she’s a woman. Twenty years is a long time to leave women out of the picture, and even high schoolers have petitioned for the Commission on Presidential Debates to get a woman involved this year. Crowley’s political views are as elusive as any male moderator’s; she’s not going to turn the debates into the Rachel Maddow show or shift the focus because she’s a woman. But involving women in politics has to happen on all fronts, and we’re excited that Crowley is