CNN, Fox News Bungle Supreme Court Coverage (VIDEO)

June 28, 2012 7:39 a.m.

Updated: 11:56 a.m. ET

In the mad dash to report the Supreme Court’s historic health care ruling before the competition, CNN and Fox News got a bit ahead of themselves.CNN first broke the news that the health care law’s individual mandate was struck down. CNN’s reporters and producers sent tweets of the mandate’s demise. The network’s homepage splashed this headline: “Mandate struck down — High court finds measure unconstitutional.”

Kate Bolduan reported on air that, according to CNN court producer Bill Mears, the individual mandate is “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.”

Fox News’ Bill Hemmer followed suit. “SUPREME COURT FINDS HEALTH CARE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE UNCONSTITUTIONAL,” Fox’s chryon read. Fox News did not return TPM’s request for comment.

The court did, in fact, find that the individual mandate violated the Commerce Clause. But the justices determined that it is constitutional under Congress’ taxing power.

After some more vamping on air, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer told viewers there were “conflicting” reports. “Let’s hold off on drawing any final conclusions on what exactly the nine justice of the U.S. Supreme Court have decided,” he said, after several minutes of drawing conclusions.

In a breaking news email, CNN sent a correction. At time of writing, the network’s live blog had not yet included a correction. CNN later issued a correction to its reporting:

“In his opinion, Chief Justice Roberts initially said that the individual mandate was not a valid exercise of Congressional power under the Commerce Clause. CNN reported that fact, but then wrongly reported that therefore the court struck down the mandate as unconstitutional. However, that was not the whole of the Court’s ruling. CNN regrets that it didn’t wait to report out the full and complete opinion regarding the mandate. We made a correction within a few minutes and apologize for the error.”

MSNBC, for its part, waited to report on the court’s final ruling. “We’re proud of MSNBC’s fast and accurate coverage of the SCOTUS decision,” network spokeswoman Lauren Skowronski told TPM in a statement. “MSNBC will continue to provide comprehensive coverage of this story throughout the day.”

Chuck Todd, NBC News’ political director and White House correspondent, praised his colleague Pete Williams, who anchored the network’s court coverage.

“Pete Williams is the pro’s pro,” Todd told TPM. “Nobody is more careful; look at our history on this … Pete was the one who got Bush-Gore right first. I’m proud to call him a colleague.”

Watch a highlight reel CNN and Fox News’ reporting this morning:


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