Ouch! CNN, Fox News Flub Coverage of Supreme Court's Health Care Ruling

Dewey did not defeat Truman and the Supreme Court did not strike down President Obama’s Affordable Care Act — though CNN and Fox News viewers were left understandably confused on the latter this morning, as news broke on the landmark decision.

The Supreme Court’s decision, by a 5-4 vote, to uphold “Obamacare” said that the “individual mandate” requiring citizens to have health care is constitutional, since any “fine” levied against those who go without is considered a tax.

Nonetheless, Fox News was quick to report that the individual mandate had been declared “unconstitutional,” while CNN said the mandate had been “struck down.” Both networks ultimately corrected their reporting, though not before the Twitterverse had much fun at their expense. Perhaps the best of the barbs, courtesy of HitFix‘s Alan Sepinwall:

The two cable news outlets’ confusion likely stemmed from the fact that early sections of the 193-page decision determined that the mandate was unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause, which gives government the right to regulate commerce. Later passages went on to uphold the mandate, since the Constitution allows for taxes.

SCOTUS did, however, find fault with another provision of the Affordable Care Act, one that would open up Medicaid to anyone with an income up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line and thus place undue burden on individual states.

CNN and Fox News screen grabs by Andrew Kaczynski (BuzzFeed) and Jason Keath.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Alex says:

    NPR got it wrong too.

  2. TV Gord says:

    I’m sure the folks at The Daily Show are chomping at the bit for tonight’s show! It’s the last one before their two-week vacation, too, so they probably popped champagne corks when they saw these careless screw-ups!

  3. KSM says:

    I expect that from Fox, but CNN, I would have expected better. That’s why I only followed legal blogs for this!

    • Leila says:

      CNN is no longer what it used to be. Their primetime is devoted to entertainment gossip, sensationalist crime shows. American news media is too concerned with ratings and putting on a “show” rather than showing us quality journalism.

  4. TV Gord says:

    I followed Dan Abrams, the ABC legal correspondent, and he kept me in the loop. He did a great job. (I’m hoping he’ll be Kelly Ripa’s permanent co-host, but now I’m thinking his talents would be wasted there.)

    • dan says:

      Can’t stand Dan Abrams as a legal consultant/correspondent/talking head. The man never handled a legal case in his life and his analysis of legal issues is sensationalistic as opposed to reasonable or pragmatic (which is expected for a guy who got his start as a “commentator” during the OJ Simpson case). I can’t believe he is the best that ABC can get.

      • TV Gord says:

        You and I are watching a different guy. To call him sensationalistic (sic) when he spends a good portion of his time correcting Nancy Grace makes me smirk.

  5. Nicotine says:

    I can’t wait to hear Mitt Romney talk about how he was the original constructor of Obamacare all along – which he was, but he wouldn’t admit it before now.

  6. Carter says:

    I thought Obama wasn’t going to raise taxes! Turns out this was just a big tax grab all along, at least that’s what the SCOTUS says.

    • Caroline says:

      But if you listened to the commentary – there is no provisions for collection of what the SC is calling a “Tax”

  7. Pam Bass says:

    Can’t wait to see The Daily Show and Colbert report! LOL!

  8. Dennis says:

    It’s a sad day for America and another step in the Death of Freedom.

    • Leila says:

      Another one who has been brainwashed by the likes of Fox News/Limbaugh.

    • Cam says:

      Yeah cause us Canadians who already have free healthcare are living under a communist regime (please don’t tell the government I managed to find a computer with internet access)…what a joke you are

      • Angela says:

        Hee, I love it when Canadians come in to argue for universal healthcare. Shame some in America still keep falling for overreactive BS.

        • TV Gord says:

          Why? It has worked for generations. Don’t believe the hype that’s spoon-fed to you on FixNews.

          • Angela says:

            Ooh, yikes, I must not have made myself clear enough. I’m for the healthcare reform, I wish we were more like Canada on this issue. I was cheering a Canadian coming in to correct the misconceptions many have about this issue and finding it a shame that many in the States continue to believe in the misconceptions about the supposed “evils” of universal healthcare (“FixNews” is a perfect description). Apologies if it came off wrong.

          • TV Gord says:

            Sorry, Angela, I completely misunderstood. Please accept my apologies. I’m in Ottawa on a taxpayer funded morphine drip. ;-)

    • Lo says:

      Quit drinking the Kool-Aid. This ensures that taxpayers don’t have to cover the costs of all the uninsured who flood the ERs and then skip out on the bill. I can’t understand anyone who is against that. Now, if you are one of those uninsured, I would be more than happy to support your freedom to not buy health insurance, BUT then you have to sign legal documents stating that if you end up in an ER with no credit/debit card, the hospital has the “freedom” to send you packing or let you die.

      Unbelievable how such a simple, pragmatic concept is lost on so many. I don’t see everyone up in arms about car insurance and that is for PROPERTY damage! We’re talking about human lives here!

      • Ana says:

        Actually, what I find unbelievable is how idealogues miss the fact that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The money to pay for this has to come from somewhere. Higher taxes and mandates is the surest way to get business to shut down which leads to more unemployment. And as the elderly and uninsured now get a pass the younger and healthier population will get stuck with the bill. So what do they do? Go off their private insurance and into the public rolls. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is unsustainable. A person with average intelligence can see the math doesn’t add up.

        • kate says:

          A person with average intelligence recognizes that you obviously have no idea how this actually works.

        • Jess says:

          You’re right, the money does have to come from somewhere, how about our gigantic defense budget which is bigger than the next 26 countries on the list COMBINED?! Also, as one of the healthy young people you mentioned, I suspect i might get “stuck with the bill,” but guess what? I’m okay with it because it’s the right thing to do. Even Rwanda has universal health care, RWANDA!!! Why are american still discussing this?

        • Temis says:

          Even a person of average intelligence knows that we ALL pay for everyone’s health care. Someone with an untreated chronic condition that ends up in an emergency room is not going to be booted out onto the sidewalk to die. (Is that really the kind of country you want to live in?) So we pay to treat that person, after years of neglecting their health due to lack of ability to pay for preventive care.

          This is why America’s health care costs are out of control. Health care is wildly inefficient in this country. We need to get costs under control through greater efficiency, and we achieve that through cheaper preventative care that precludes the need for expensive emergency care down the line, and we achieve that through universal health coverage, or as universal as we can get (because even with the mandate upheld, this ain’t the single payer system, and millions of Americans will still not have coverage.)

          It’s not perfect but it’s a lot better than the massive unsustainable clusterf&ck of a system we have now.

          • dan says:

            Actually, there are emergency rooms who will kick a person out if they can’t produce documentation of current insurance and/or they don’t have a credit/debit card. There have been numerous stories about such incidents on the national news for years. A “for profit” hospital does not have to treat anybody who walks in the door (be it an emergency or not).

        • Marc says:

          And, this was not only “conservative” Mitt Romney’s plan in Massachusetts but also the congressional Republicans’ alternative to “Hillarycare” in 1993. No mention of this on Fox, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, or the broadcast networks. News coverage may be voluminous but it is also pretty sad.

    • Carm says:

      I don’t think you speak for all of America. And everyone is still free to drink too much, eat too much, smoke and not exercise. Only now when they show up at the emergency room suffering from the conditions of unhealthy lifestyles (or any other condition), the insured won’t end up paying the bill.

  9. Forwarddad says:

    Not if you gave a child with a chronic life threatening illness.

  10. Renee says:

    I don’t really understand how they can do this when insurance is a profit making business. It’s purpose is to make as large a profit for it’s investors as possible. If the federal government wants to limit the amount of profit that can be made, then sure…absolutely make it a legal requirement for everyone to have health insurance. But saying I have to buy insurance or be fined…where is the stipulation that the insurance company can’t charge me my total income? As one of the many whose employer went out of business and I lost my insurance, my current income is less than 1/2 what it was. Literally. Currently insurance would be more than 1/2 my income. Unless there is a legal requirement that the insurance be affordable…how can they do this?

    • Elizabeth says:

      Jesse – the quote below is from today’s Wall Street Journal. Hopefully it answers some of your questions…..

      “Most of the mandates don’t start until 2014. That is when most Americans will be required to carry insurance or pay the penalty at issue in the Supreme Court case. The penalty will start at $95 a year or up to 1% of a person’s income, whichever is greater. Tens of millions of Americans are expected to get insurance coverage under the system that starts in 2014. Some of the poorest Americans will become newly qualified to enroll in the federal-state Medicaid program—although the court appeared to make some changes to how that program will work. Another batch of people who earn more but still have low incomes will get tax credits to offset their insurance costs. Consumers will be able to comparison shop for policies in newly created exchanges that will operate like popular online travel websites. Insurance companies will have to sell coverage to everyone, regardless of their medical history, and will have to restrict how much they vary premiums based on age. Companies with 50 workers or more will be required to offer insurance to their workers or pay a penalty.”

  11. Ana says:

    I enjoy this site so much. I find it to be the most reliable source for news about my favorite shows. But I do wish it would stay out of the political arena. Not everyone is a liberal, even if we do love liberal-leaning entertainment. I much prefer for the lines between fiction and reality to not be crossed…

    • davey says:

      And not everyone is a Republican either. All that TV Line is saying is the CNN and Fox News got the story wrong.

      • DL says:

        This. They’re reporting on television news, Ana. You know, news that happened, like… on TV. There are no political leanings, just facts.

    • cmunney says:

      I agree with your sentiment about keeping politics and entertainment seperate. However, I think that this was more of a “look at the shoddy journalism” than a “hooray, something supported by liberals was found legal” story.

    • Carm says:

      This story is about something that happened on TV today. I am guessing that no one forced you to read this story. And according to your last sentence, I guess Ann Curry leaving the Today show should also be off limits for tvline.com.

    • Beth says:


  12. O'Brien says:

    NBC nailed it. They broke in, said the decision was out, and they were going to give their guy a few minutes to actually make it past page two. It’s a 193 page decision, the lead opinion of which is written, however else you feel about him, by probably the foremost legal mind and legal writer of the past 50 years. It is complicated and intricate. The people at FOX and CNN know this. FOX, I stopped believing the moment on 9/11 when they reported an estimate of 10,000 deaths at WTC with no verification whatsoever. CNN…well, someone said it’s not what it used to be. Too right, sadly.

  13. kate says:

    Oy. What a massive reporting fail.

  14. Jess says:

    reporting fail! what happened to you, CNN? I used to get news from you. >_> Now to tonight’s Daily Show and Colbert Report…

  15. Britta Unfiltered says:

    No real surprise that Fox would misreport the news, but CNN? Really? I guess it has been awhile since I’ve watched CNN, they have probably gone downhill. I looked up their website today and noticed one of their articles was on Jenny McCarthy’s latest Playboy “spread”. (Their words, not mine). What a classy, intelligent thing to report on, CNN. You’re keeping it newsworthy. So now I think I’m done with CNN.

  16. patchouli says:

    Limbaugh must be burning in hell, because he probably died when the right news broke! LOL! Life is good!!!!!!! :)!

  17. Symce says:

    I’m from the Netherlands myself, and we got an excellent health care system here, I don’t see what the big fuzz is all about over there. It’s a logical system, and will help more ppl than it doesn’t in the end.

  18. Forwarddad says:

    CNN and Fox wanted to be first’. Be damn the facts. NYT issued a statement they had received the ruling but asked its readers to stand by until they had time to review it. I think it was 10 minutes or so we had to wait and the facts were correct. I would rather wait to get it right then to get it right away and have it wrong.