Oops: Fox, CNN Drop the Ball in Their Reporting on Today’s Landmark Supreme Court Ruling

Jun 28, 2012  •  Post A Comment

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:




  1. More proof that the public should NOT watch Fox or CNN and definetly ignore the Sludge Report.

  2. And they watch NBC news which stages exploding gas tanks to put forth an agenda during their “news” ???

  3. In Fox’s case, I’m sure it was just wishful thinking. But when you put your head in your rectum, what can you expect.

  4. I was watching Fox News, so I don’t know what CNN was doing at the time, however by what you write, you are seriously mis-characterizing the initial reactions of both networks.
    From what I observed, as Chief Justice Roberts read the decision he initially addressed the issue of the individual mandate as a function of the commerce clause, which the majority found was an unconstitutional use of the clause. In that respect, the individual mandate WAS killed, thus both CNN and FNC were correct-AT THE MOMENT.
    Then, the majority did something completely unexpected by EVERYONE-they addressed the individual mandate as a TAX. This blindsided everyone. As soon as the Fox News anchors realized there was more to the majority’s opinion than treating the individual mandate as an exercise of the commerce clause, they called for the graphics to be taken down until the full opinion was explained.
    When everyone, from the Democrats who crafted this bill to the President that signed it into law to the opponents who brought the lawsuit specifically treated the individual mandate as a commerce clause exercise rather than a tax, to have the majority of Supreme Court justices call it a tax was something no one could have anticipated.
    I would like to see any of you deriders and naysayers handle the situation this morning any more accurately or with any more grace than either CNN or Fox News did. I cannot believe any of you could have-I know I couldn’t have.
    In closing; to make fun of professional journalists attempting to relay a rapidly changing, unexpected situation when you would not have been able to do any better just illustrates the pettiness of those who are “calling the kettle black.” In other words-put up or shut up!

  5. Here’s an idea, Newshawk: wait for the decision, then report it. The only way a news organization can be “blindsided” by a decision they news days in advance would be announced is if they’re more interested in rushing some all-encompasing headline to air ASAP than waiting for the full decision. It wasn’t “killed” or “found unconstitutional.” Idiotic trigger-happy news producers are the bane of TV news.

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