Health care reform was upheld Thursday by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling, but viewers tuned in to CNN or Fox News didn’t know that right away.
In a rush to break the news, both networks initially reported that parts of the reform act commonly known as “ObamaCare” had been struck down. The Arlington, Va., based WJLA News took screencaps of the networks coverage, showing that at 10:08 a.m. CNN’s Twitter feed claimed that the individual mandate had been struck down.
At the same time, viewers watching CNN saw the incorrect information posted on television, and reporter John King said the justices “gutted” the law in “a direct blow to President Obama,” USA Today reported. Readers at CNN.com saw a banner also claiming the mandate had been struck down. Fox News also reported that the high court had declared the mandate unconstitutional, WJLA reported.
Despite much uncertainty over the future of health care reform, the court voted 5-4 in favor of upholding the Affordable Care Act in full. The deciding vote came from Chief Justice John Roberts, who moved to the left to uphold the act that many conservatives believed would be found unconstitutional. The ruling means that individuals who do not purchase medical insurance coverage can be subject to a tax.
The error was picked up by several media outlets, but Associated Press reporters have been told to lay off the networks. Jim Romenesko reported that a regional editor issued a memo for reporters to “stop taunting on social networks about CNN and others’ SCOTUS ruling mistake and the AP getting it right” and instead let the organization’s reporting on health care reform take the lead.