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CNN, Fox Misreport Health Care Ruling

Both CNN and Fox News get it wrong on the health care mandate.


Woops! CNN and Fox News this morning incorrectly reported that the US Supreme Court had ruled President Obama's health care mandate unconstitutional.

They stated that the court struck down the individual mandate, which requires most Americans to get health insurance by 2014. The Supreme Court actually mostly upheld the mandate.

CNN reported the misinformation on television, broadcast it across its website and sent a message on Twitter reading: "Supreme Court strikes down individual mandate portion of health care law," with a link to its Live Blog. The Twitter message shot around the Twittersphere and by 10:26 a.m., less than 20 minutes after it was sent, it had been retweeted 958 times.

TV screens tuned to CNN also saw an on-screen message that the individual mandate had been struck down. As Wolf Blitzer and John King discussed the mandate as the centerpiece of the president’s plan, and how it was the mechanism for payment, other outlets, and Twitter, where many also got it wrong initially, began contradicting them.

CNN also sent a breaking news email alert to subscribers announcing that the mandate had been struck down. Eight minutes later, it sent a correction:

Correction: The Supreme Court backs all parts of President Obama’s signature health care law, including the individual mandate that requires all to have health insurance.


Politico reports that Bill Hemmer of Fox News initially said the following:

We have breaking news here on the Fox News Channel, the individual mandate has been ruled unconstitutional. This was a part of the law that was at the center of the oral arguments three months ago on this day when the justices hammered away at the White House and the administration's attorney, questioning the validity of the individual mandate and asking the following pointed question: if you can legislate healthcare, where can the federal government be stopped?

Fox News then changed its coverage of the ruling.

Fox News Gets Supreme Court Ruling Wrong

Fox change its message to “Supreme Court upholds parts and invalidates parts of health care law” as the camera cut to correspondent Shannon Bream outside the court. Bream began speed-reading the decision out loud, frantically trying to figure out what the ruling said. Hemmer asked how many pages there were, and when she told him more than 100, he told her to keep reading and get back to them.


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