In their zeal to get the news out faster than the competition, both Fox News and CNN incorrectly reported on today’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Healthcare Act, according to New York Magazine.
As we reported earlier today, the court surprised many observers by upholding one of the most controversial provisions of the measure, which is generally known as the “individual mandate.”
Initially, Fox News and CNN — both of whom apparently had graphics and other materials prepared in advance and ready to air — announced that the individual mandate had been killed, overturned, declared unconstitutional and so forth.
Online outlets including Drudge Report made the same mistake, the story reports.
The report notes: “The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate today for reasons, and with reverberating effects, that will take at least the next few hours (if not days or weeks) to fully explain. But in a rush to get the news out, CNN and Fox News wrongly reported on the spot that Obamacare was ruled unconstitutional.”
The court ruled that the mandate is in effect a tax, and therefore its implementation by Congress is legal.
The report adds: “Watching the talking heads attempt to parse the specifics of the ruling in real time was some of the most confusing live television imaginable. The mix-up occurred online, too, at sites like CNN.com and Drudge Report, where "Struck Down" and "Mandate Gone" headlines and tweets were soon scrapped in favor of the truth.”
The story declares the errant reporting on the ruling to be a modern-day "Dewey Defeats Truman," referring to the infamous erroneous banner headline on the Chicago Tribune in the 1948 presidential election.
CNN later offered an apology, stating: "In his opinion, Chief Justice Roberts initially said that the individual mandate was not a valid exercise of Congressional power under the Commerce Clause. CNN reported that fact, but then wrongly reported that therefore the court struck down the mandate as unconstitutional. However, that was not the whole of the Court’s ruling. CNN regrets that it didn’t wait to report out the full and complete opinion regarding the mandate. We made a correction within a few minutes and apologize for the error."
Fox News had not yet responded to the incident.
Screen grabs and videos of the errant reports quickly proliferated online. Here are some examples — the video, posted by New York Magazine, is especially recommended: