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Politics

Fox, CNN Backpedal on Health Care

June 28, 2012

Post updated with Fox News comments at 1:03 p.m.

The saying "haste makes waste" is especially applicable when it comes to television news. Attempting to swiftly report the Supreme Court's ruling on the federal health care law, both CNN and Fox News initially incorrectly reported the Court's decision on the individual mandate. Both networks erroneously relayed that the law's individual mandate was struck down. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the mandate.

"CNN regrets that it didn't wait to report out the full and complete opinion regarding the mandate," the network in a statement. "We made a correction within a few minutes and apologize for the error."

A banner that read "Mandate struck down- High court finds measure unconstitutional" appeared across the network's website, shortly after the court decision was announced. On air, CNN's Kate Bolduan reported the individual mandate was "not a valid exercise of the Commerce Clause. It appears as if the Supreme Court justices have struck down the individual mandate, the centerpiece of the health care legislation."

After several minutes, CNN's Wolf Blitzer eventually said there were "conflicting" reports adding, "let's hold off on drawing any final conclusions on what exactly the nine justice of the U.S. Supreme Court have decided." CNN has since issued a correction in their breaking email and a statement.

Over on Fox News, the chryon, "Supreme Court Finds Health Care Individual Mandate Unconstitutional" was used.

Fox took a more aggressive tone in walking back the error. A Fox News spokesperson noted the network corrected its reporting within a few minutes and said Megyn Kelly also alerted viewers that there were conflicting stories.

"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, Fox News Executive Vice President Michael Clemente said in a statement. "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."

MSNBC waited longer than Fox News or CNN to report the ruling and correctly relayed the ruling on the individual mandate.

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