Hey Internet, Stop Attacking Candy Crowley's Weight

CNN anchor Candy Crowley arrives for the state dinner in honour of South Korea's President Lee Myung-Bak and his wife Kim Yoo
CNN anchor Candy Crowley arrives for the state dinner in honour of South Korea's President Lee Myung-Bak and his wife Kim Yoon-Ok October 13, 2011 at the White House in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

While the Obama and Romney campaigns complain that Candy Crowley, CNN's chief political correspondent and the moderator of the Oct. 16 presidential debate, might -- gasp! -- ask a few follow-up questions, some Internet users are criticizing the journalist for a different reason ... her weight. Yes, a woman is moderating the presidential debate for the first time in over 20 years, and she's not skinny. And so, the body-bashing has begun.

New York Magazine's Daily Intel blog pointed out the rash of "she's so fat" tweets that have sprung up about Crowley on Monday afternoon. The tweets are vicious and show an unfortunately unsurprising lack of judgment and restraint on the part of the Twitter user who sent them. Here are a few examples (and these are among the more tame of the bunch by far):

I agree with Daily Intel's Joe Coscarelli that these tweets are (unfortunately) pretty run of the mill. We live in a country where women's bodies are constantly scrutinized, where it's considered a serious achievement to have (a few) female characters on television and in movies who aren't a size zero, and where Hillary Clinton can't appear in public sans makeup without said facial bareness making national headlines.

It might not surprise us anymore when a powerful woman becomes the brunt of petty remarks about her size, but that makes it all the more depressing. When Jim Lehrer was preparing to moderate the first presidential debate of this election cycle, he received criticism for being a "safe" and "uninspired" choice, and some even went so far as to suggest he was too old to be a moderator (largely based on his comments from the previous year indicating that he wouldn't moderate another presidential debate). But no one went after him for his looks. That line of criticism mostly gets reserved for women. (Though I'm sure if Lehrer was heavier, he would have gotten at least a few insults thrown his way.) I suspect that many of Crowley's critics have little ability to make substantive attacks on her qualifications to be tonight's moderator -- after all, she's been a CNN correspondent for 25 years and a journalist longer than that, she's worked in all 50 states, and she's interviewed political figures like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. So instead, random Internet users make below-the-belt comments about her weight.

For those interested, there will be a whole lot more to discuss about tonight's debate than Candy Crowley's body. I'm curious to see what those controversial follow-up questions will be, whether she'll push the candidates to answer those and the ones posed by the audience, rather than talking around them (Jim Lehrer revealed that this is not his strength) and whether the word "women" will even be uttered. Let's keep our eyes on the weight that matters here: that of the candidates' arguments.