CNN and Fox News announce wrong 'Obamacare' verdict
WITH what seemed like all of America awaiting the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling on "Obamacare" it was inevitable that the television news channels, who thrive on being first with the news, would perhaps jump the gun.
Slightly more unusual was that not one, but two of the US's biggest news networks announced the wrong verdict.
"Individual mandate struck down," the breaking news banner on CNN read. "Supreme Court finds measure unconstitutional."
The station's website reported a similar outcome. "Mandate struck down," its front page announced before the headline was quickly changed to "UPHELD". As did its Twitter feed.
Fox News reported the same with an on-screen banner which read: "Supreme Court finds heath care individual mandate unconstitutional," before changing it.
After CNN's reporter outside court, Kate Bolduan, had announced the incorrect news, the show's anchor Wolf Blitzer mused upon its ramifications for President Obama's administration.
Shortly afterwards the show corrected its error. The confusion is said to have arose because when Chief Justice Roberts began reading the decision it initially sounded like he was overturning the law before announcing it was to be upheld.
The mistake comes just days after CNN posted 21-year low viewing figures. In the second quarter of 2012, the network attracted fewer viewers than at any time in the past two decades.
An average of 446,000 people watched CNN's prime time programming while 319,000 watch its daytime programming – both 35 per cent drops from the same period last year. The declines from 2011 are at least twice as severe as those suffered at its rivals: Fox News and MSNBC.
In a statement, CNN apologised for the error. "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 apologise for the error."
Fox News made no immediate comment.