Awkward! CNN Breaks Erroneous SCOTUS News

The outlet was quick to report the health care decision this morning, but got it wrong

Remember the Chicago Tribune’s “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment? Awk-ward. CNN had one of those this morning, when it boldly announced on its home page that the Supreme Court struck down the individual mandate, when in fact it upheld the mandate and most of the Affordable Care Act.

MarketWatch offered this possible explanation for the major mess-up: “CNN… was in all likelihood undone by an understandable, if unforgivable, mistake: the Supreme Court majority did say that the health care mandate was unconstitutional under the so-called Commerce Clause. But the court also held that the law is constitutional as a tax. So, it’s legal.”

It all does seem confusing to laypeople, yes, but shouldn’t a major outlet like CNN have a skilled reporter with legal expertise on staff to cover the biggest Supreme Court decision in recent times? Sadly, in this era of news-tainment, it’s less about accurate delivery of facts and more about competing for readers and ratings. To wit, CNN’s hastiness might have had something to do with its own recent struggles.

Here’s how Gawker described the network’s ratings this week: “Absolutely no one is watching CNN anymore. The network has just posted figures for the second quarter of this year and, hoo-boy, they are terrible. A 40 percent drop in prime-time ratings since last year. The worst performance ever for a second quarter.” Ouch.

But CNN wasn’t the only one that screwed up this morning’s news. Fox News also made the same mistake.

So it turned out that, even in this era of the 24-hour news cycle and instant access to news online, I got the earliest, most reliable reporting from my lawyer friends posting on Facebook—but at least I got it somehow.

Alesandra Dubin is iVote's chief election news blogger and a Los Angeles-based writer. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.

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