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CNN and FOX Get The News Wrong

October 3, 2013

In this age of trying to get the news first, it is, unfortunately, now somewhat expected that somebody is going to get the story wrong or report the wrong information. This one instance happened in June 2012, but is very relevant to what I am discussing on this blog.

This story from the New York Times got me very interested in the topic. (On an unrelated note, I graduated from the same high school as this NY Times reporter!) It discusses the Supreme Court’s decision on President Obama’s health care reform bill, more lovingly known as Obamacare. The United States Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold the President’s bill. The article suggests that most major news networks were able to correctly report the story, but that both CNN and FOX News misreported the information.

Surprisingly, both CNN and FOX immediately put up graphics on their channels stating that the Supreme Court had voted against the bill and that they believed it was unconstitutional.

This image from the New York Times website shows CNN’s miscue as it happened live on television. Similarly, the FOX News gaffe is shown here.

A complete timeline of the events as they happened and as they were misreported by both networks can be found here from the Poynter Institute.

In addition to the wrong information about the Supreme Court ruling, CNN also gave out false information via Twitter saying that President Obama would discuss the ruling shortly, as seen below:

Shortly after, CNN retracted that statement and said it had no information as to when the President would offer his comments on the situation.

According to the above Poynter Institute story, CNN even sent out breaking news alert emails to its subscribers stating that the bill had been shot down by the Supreme Court.

After it was clear that the bill had been upheld by the Supreme Court, as opposed to being struck down, CNN offered the following apology to its viewers. CNN offered a corrected tweet to its viewers 13 minutes after the initial tweet was posted with the incorrect information.

FOX News explained what had happened with the issue, basically saying that it had been confused by the way Supreme Court Justice John Roberts had worded his statement, and then made a quick correction. In the process, FOX took a jab at CNN saying, “”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.”

Basically, what happened with the issue is that both CNN and FOX News didn’t wait until Justice Roberts was finished speaking about the case. From the initial statements he made, it sounded as though the bill had been denied, while it was ultimately upheld.

In the reaction to all of this, members from the Associated Press, who correctly reported the story after waiting to hear Justice Roberts’ comments in their entirety, took to social media to poke fun at CNN and other networks for getting the story incorrect. This led to an AP editor sending a memo to his employees to quit taunting the other networks.

This is simply another instance in which the news networks and reporters want to get the news first and end up getting the news wrong. It’s an embarrassing thing for all of the reporters from that network as well as the network itself. People rely on these networks to give them the news, and cases like this, along with the incorrect reporting during the Boston Bombings, create distrust between reporter and viewer.


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