CNN Got the Supreme Court's Health Care Ruling Exactly Wrong
If you tuned into CNN today for your news on the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act, you just witnessed a news agency get everything completely, utterly wrong.
Update: 11:57 a.m.: CNN has issued a correction, blaming the error on not waiting for the full opinion to be read. Here it is:
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.
Original: If you tuned into CNN today for your news on the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act, you just witnessed a news agency get everything, completely, utterly wrong.
Here's what happened:
On the homepage:
The Breaking Banners:
Update 11:55 a.m.: There's no mention of the incorrect ruling on CNN's official Twitter feed--just Retweets about the correct ruling--but NPR had jumped on CNN's lead at around 10:08 a.m.:
Breaking: @CNN reporting #SCOTUS has ruled that the individual mandate for health care is unconstitutional.— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) June 28, 2012
As a commenter pointed out, it was CNN's Breaking News Twitter Feed that had this initially:
Supreme Court strikes down individual mandate portion of health care law. on.cnn.com/LvVRcK— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) June 28, 2012
And followed shortly with this:
Correction: The Supreme Court backs all parts of President Obama’s health care law. on.cnn.com/LvVRcK— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) June 28, 2012
On Television (via Buzzfeed):
You can see that Bill Mears, the network's Supreme Court producer, is name-checked. Yes, we're cringing too.
It's Not Just CNN
As we mentioned, there's chatter that Fox may have bungled the news too. But over at Politwoops, which gathers deleted tweets from politicians, it turns out many politicians got the news wrong too, which also means they could possibly be loyal CNN viewers.
The Faster and Very Furious Darell Issa
Mr. Men's Health Aaron Schock:
And the Freedom-Ringing, Congressman Dennis Ross from Florida
And the obligatory Fox News (via Jason Keath) bungle:
Well, it's not pretty. As we and media outlets like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have reported before, the only reason people seem to be tuning into CNN versus MSNBC and Fox News is their coverage for disasters, trials, and breaking news. A ruling that will change the way we do healthcare in the United States? Yea, we'd say that falls into the same category and is now an embarrassing example of CNN not being able to do what it does well right.
And it's lead to speculating about the "End of CNN" ... with some of the calls are coming from inside the house:
CNN staffer emails me: "Its shameful"— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) June 28, 2012
Update: 12:44 p.m. Buzzfeed's Michael Hastings has more of the fallout and embarrassment from CNN staffers:
“Fucking humiliating,” said one CNN veteran. “We had a chance to cover it right. And some people in here don’t get what a big deal getting it wrong is. Morons.”
“Shameful,” another long-time correspondent told BuzzFeed.
"It's outrageous and embarrassing,” a third CNN staffer vented. “Maybe this will shake the company into understanding that CNN has not been the 'most trusted name in news' for a very long time."
Erik Wemple, of the Washington Post tweeted:
A trusted source e-mails: "beginning of the end for CNN"— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) June 28, 2012
Politco's Ben White with CNN on life support theory:
Is this the day CNN died for good?— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) June 28, 2012
And Romenesko has an e-mail from an AP spokesperson with some gloating (Update 11:26 a.m: according to Romenesko the AP has now told its reporters to stop gloating.):
CNN fails badly on SCOTUS health care decision. AP first. Scotusblog saying complicated. CNN says overturned. Win AP. Big Fail CNN. Perhaps they shouldn’t have dropped AP to save money. Accuracy counts.
You get the point, big news event, big station, big oops. (And if you want to see what threw them, check out Dashiell Bennett's coverage of the morning's news. Scroll down to his 10:42 update. And here's Jeffrey Toobin's explanation of how CNN got it wrong.)
We don't think that this brain fart means that someone at Turner Broadcasting will magically just unplug the station, Anderson Cooper and all, from its respirator and that the channel will just stop existing tomorrow. But messing on your home turf just made catching Fox (though it got the ruling wrong too) and MSNBC that much harder.