CNN just can’t catch a break.
First, the network’s ratings dipped to a 21-year-low, and media types people began predicting the inevitable downfall of the cable news channel.
Then on Thursday, when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5-4 to uphold President Obama’s health care reform bill in a landmark decision, CNN — the little engine that couldn’t — reported that the mandate had been struck down — the exact opposite of what actually happened.
CNN wasn’t the only network to jump the gun.
During Fox News Channel’s coverage, Bill Hemmer reported that the health care law was ruled unconstitutional.
Hemmer corrected himself by saying, “Let me stop you right there — because this is complicated…We’re still trying to figure this out. Be cautious with us, and we are trying to do the best we can as we sort through it.”
His visibly perturbed co-anchor Megyn Kelly said, “We need to update our lower third, which may not be correct right now.”
In a race to break the news on CNN, Wolf Blitzer, John King and the reporter on the scene, Kate Bolduan, relayed false information that had been given to them by CNN producer Bill Mears, who was inside the courtroom.
On CNN, the headline read: “BREAKING NEWS: SUPREME CT. KILLS INDIVIDUAL MANDATE, and later “BREAKING NEWS: Individual Mandate Struck Down, Supreme Court finds measure unconstitutional.” On the CNN website, the headline simply read, “Mandate struck down.”
Of course, newsrooms across the country had prepared stories and headlines in the days leading up to the decision: One that said the law was upheld, another saying it was struck down. But most newsrooms across the country didn’t put the wrong headline up in big bold letters for six whole minutes.
Although not very many people tune into CNN, the false information spread like wildfire as the network’s Twitter account and its breaking news handle tweeted, “Supreme Court strikes down individual mandate portion of health care law.”
The network apologized to viewers on its website, “CNN regrets that it didn’t wait to report out the full and complete opinion regarding the mandate.”
Michael Clemente, executive vice president of news editorial for Fox News, wrote in a statement:
We gave our viewers the news as it happened. When Justice Roberts said, and we read, that the mandate was not valid under the Commerce clause, we reported it. Bill Hemmer even added, be patient as we work through this. Then when we heard and read, that the mandate could be upheld under the government’s power to tax, we reported that as well—all within two minutes.
By contrast, one other cable network was unable to get their Supreme Court reporter to the camera, and said as much. Another said it was a big setback for the President. Fox reported the facts, as they came in.
According to BuzzFeed, the CNN fiasco has enraged many current and former CNN employees.
“Fucking humiliating,” one CNN veteran told BuzzFeed. “We had a chance to cover it right. And some people in here don’t get what a big deal getting it wrong is. Morons.”
Another staffer told the site, “It’s outrageous and embarrassing. Maybe this will shake the company into understanding that CNN has not been the ‘most trusted name in news’ for a very long time.”
(Images via BuzzFeed)
CORRECTION: In the original version of this story, The Daily Caller incorrectly stated that Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier was reporting on the Supreme Court decision on-air with Megyn Kelly. Baier was not on-air at the time, but it was FNC’s Bill Hemmer who reported on the health care decision. TheDC sincerely regrets the error.