The Supreme Court upheld the individual insurance mandate of President Obama’s “Affordable Health Care Act” in a 5-4 decision on Thursday, sending cable news and Twitter into a frenzy.
Moments after the 193-page ruling was released by the court, several media outlets–including CNN and Fox News–erroneously reported on-air that the mandate had been struck down.
“BREAKING NEWS: INDIVIDUAL MANDATE STRUCK DOWN,” CNN’s on-screen scroll blared. “Supreme Court finds measure unconstitutional.”
It was a “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment for the 21st Century, New York Times reporter Charlie Savage tweeted, pointing to a screengrab of CNN’s premature scroll.
This had the best image I’d seen all day of Obama holding an iPad in a photoshopped parody of the Dewey defeats Truman moment. For those of you who don’t know about that, it was another example of short cutting in order to scoop the others. In this case, the news outlets just weren’t careful. It was an embarrassing but hilarious moment that teaches us that you should be skeptical of the news until the whole story comes in.
Buzzfeed had this report: News staffers at the cable network CNN, long the gold standard in television news, were on the verge of open revolt Thursday after CNN blew the coverage on the most consequential news event of the year.
As Chief Justice John Roberts began reading his decision on the future of President Obama’s health care overhaul, the CNN team inside the courtroom jumped the gun, believing that Roberts was saying the individual mandate was unconstitutional and would be overturned.
A producer inside the courtroom, Bill Mears, communicated the information to a relatively junior reporter, Kate Bolduan, the face of the network’s coverage outside on the courthouse steps.
Bolduan then reported, on air, that the invidual mandate was “not valid,” citing producer Mears.
“It appears as if the Supreme Court justices struck down the individual mandate, the centerpiece,” of the law, she said.
And a half dozen top on-air reporters and producers within the esteemed news organization told BuzzFeed they are furious at what they see as yet another embarrassment to a network stuck in third place in the cable news race, and torn between an identity as the leader in hard news and the success of their opinionated, personality-driven rivals, Fox News and MSNBC.
Other news stations are saying they’d rather be right than first. Oops.