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Supreme Court Health Care Ruling Confuses CNN, Fox News

The Supreme Court upheld President Barack Obama's signature piece of legislation — just don't tell the cable news networks

The Supreme Court upheld President Barack Obama's health care law on Thursday — just don't tell the cable news networks.

The high court's ruling initially flummoxed CNN and Fox News, as both cable news channels reported that the Court struck down the law.


That left only MSNBC to get it right on the first try.

“Supreme Court strikes down individual mandate portion of health care law,” CNN’s Breaking News account tweeted. The account issued a correction noting that the court “backs all parts” of the law 13 minutes later.

CNN also said the mandate had been struck down on television, its website and its breaking news alerts.

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Fox News also issued a headline across its broadcast that said the court found the law “unconstitutional.”

All of the networks place an imperative on getting the news out the fastest, but reporters and analysts had warned in advance that the ruling could be confusing and initial reports should be judicious.

Also read: Supreme Court Health Care Law Decision: Sarah Palin, Albert Brooks, Alec Baldwin React on Twitter

John King acknowledged later on the broadcast that CNN had erred in its reporting at first, leaving legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin to explain why it had been confusing. Well, before the ruling was issued.

CNN has since issued the following statement on the errors:

"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."

"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."

None of this spared the cable networks from the scorn of Twitter, CNN in particular.

Screenwriter Damon Lindelof tweeted “I am not turning off CNN until they TELL ME GORE WON FLORIDA!!!” while NPR media critic David Folkenfilk posted “Cable: get it first, then get it right.”

All of the outlets have since corrected themselves, but not before photos like these leaked across the web: