US TV stations falter over healthcare

2012-06-28 22:28

New York - A rush to report the US Supreme Court's decision on President Barack Obama's healthcare law on Thursday tripped up some news organisations that got it wrong and had to quickly correct themselves.

Both CNN and Fox News Channel initially reported incorrectly that the law's central provision, requiring virtually all Americans to have health insurance, had been struck down.

In an apology, CNN said it "regrets that it didn't wait to report out the full and complete opinion regarding the mandate."

Other news organisations and broadcast television outlets got it right, generally.

A minute after the AP alert at 10:07, The New York Times asked its readers for time, with Washington bureau chief David Leonhardt posting that reporters and editors were analysing the decision.

"Once we are comfortable with its basic meaning, you can expect a torrent of coverage," he said. The Times next sent news via Twitter at 10:20.

It was a particularly embarrassing mistake for CNN, which has suffered through one of its worst ratings quarters in several years, primarily due to a paucity of big news.

The network eagerly awaited the court's decision on Thursday, running a "countdown clock" on its screen.

Anchor Wolf Blitzer and reporter Kate Bolduan quickly reported that the healthcare law had been struck down, based on a reading of Chief Justice John Roberts' decision that the mandate was not a valid exercise of congressional power under the commerce clause.

Later in the reading, the justices found other reasons for upholding that portion of the law.

"Let's take a deep breath and see what the justices actually decided," Blitzer said.

"It could be more complicated than we originally thought."

Fox made the same initial mistake, with Bill Hemmer touting the "breaking news" that the individual mandate had been declared unconstitutional.

Fox anchor Bret Baier tweeted the same news.

Within two minutes, however, Megyn Kelly was citing the SCOTUSblog in casting doubt on that interpretation, ordering producers to change an onscreen headline that read: "Supreme Court Finds Health Care Individual Mandate Unconstitutional."

"We're trying to do the best we can," Hemmer said.

  • zaatheist - 2012-06-29 04:16

    Go Obama. Time to bury the dinosaur rethuglicans.

      jean.rossouwsa - 2012-06-29 07:12

      He lied to sell his agenda you fool. No taxes on the middle class? Lies! Obamacare now Obamatax!

  • mlucejko - 2012-06-29 07:30

    Well done Obama !! This is a step in the right direction for all American people, not just the rich that can afford Health-Care... It's a known fact that all the countries that have a National Healthcare system have a better/higher quality of life for their people than countries that don't !!

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