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News organizations don't all get ruling right

  • This television frame grab shows CNN broadcasting the Supreme Court's decision incorrectly on President Barack Obama's health care law on Thursday, June 28, 2012. Both CNN and Fox News Channel incorrectly reported Thursday that the law's central provision, requiring virtually all Americans to have health insurance, had been struck down. Both networks backtracked when it became clear that the court upheld the provision. Broadcast networks broke into regular programming to deliver special reports and generally got it right. To get the news out quickly, competitive news organizations had to wade through pages of legal writing. (AP Photo)

NEW YORK — A rush to quickly report the Supreme Court's decision on President Barack Obama's health care law on Thursday tripped up some news organizations that got it wrong and had to quickly correct themselves.

Both CNN and Fox News Channel initially reported incorrectly that the law's central provision, requiring virtually all Americans to have health insurance, had been struck down. In an apology, CNN said it "regrets that it didn't wait to report out the full and complete opinion regarding the mandate."

The Associated Press got it right, as did other news organizations and broadcast television outlets, generally. A minute after the AP flash alert at 10:07 a.m., The New York Times asked its readers for time, with Washington bureau chief David Leonhardt posting that reporters and editors were analyzing the decision.

"Once we are comfortable with its basic meaning, you can expect a torrent of coverage," he said. The Times next sent news via Twitter at 10:20.

It was a particularly embarrassing muff for CNN, which has suffered through one of its worst ratings quarters in several years, primarily due to a paucity of big news. The network eagerly awaited the Supreme Court's decision Thursday, running a "countdown clock" on its screen during the morning ticking down to 10 a.m.


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