The mainstream media is attempting to deny Mitt Romney any semblance of success in the Second Presidential Debate by invoking the fallacy that the side that complains about the moderator is the side that must have lost.
It is, of course, entirely possible to win a debate and still note that the moderator was biased–but the media narrative suits Democrats, since moderators usually lean left. Even Jim Lehrer, excoriated by the left, favored the incumbent, interrupting President Barack Obama only five times while interrupting Romney fifteen times.
There are numerous examples from the sporting world of teams complaining about bad referees–and winning regardless. Take the Green Bay Packers, for example, who were robbed of a victory over the Seattle by a bad call by the “replacement refs”–and who faced another disastrous call the very next week in their game against the New Orleans Saints. The regular referees blew a fumble call in the fourth quarter that would have given Green Bay the ball. Packer fans complained, even though the team marched to a narrow 28-27 victory.
Opinions were divided on whether Romney won the debate, lost it, or fought to a draw. Some post-debate polls gave a narrow victory to Obama, even as polls on the head-to-head election matchup suggested that Romney had maintained or expanded his narrow lead in swing states and nationwide. Yet the media–such as Nia-Malika Henderson, who repeated the fallacy on CNN’s Reliable Sources–keep suggesting that complaints mean he lost.
That sets an impossible task for Republicans: not only must you face moderators who intervene to assist Democrats, but you compound the damage if you complain or (in this case) if others do on your behalf.
Whether he won or lost in the second debate, it is remarkable Romney did as well as he did, given the clear bias shown by moderator Candy Crowley. He should take a page from the Packers, and win regardless.
Update: Perhaps the fact that CNN is running advertisements defending Crowley’s debate performance is a more telling sign of failure than the fact that many conservatives feel she was unfair?
Image credit: MediaDailyLA.com