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CNN, FNC Fail in Early Reporting of Health Care Ruling

The expediency of TV news is not meeting well with the depth involved in the ruling on the Affordable Care Act of 2010, more commonly known as Obamacare.

“Be cautious with us, we’re trying to do the best we can,” said Bill Hemmer on Fox News, at 10:11am. “We may need to update our lower third, which may not be correct,” added Megyn Kelly, which stated the court had ruled the individual mandate unconstitutional.

At 10:07, CNN’s Kate Bolduan reported the same: “It appears as if the Supreme Court justices have struck down the individual mandate.”

“Wow, that’s a dramatic moment, if in fact the Supreme Court has ruled the individual mandate is in fact unconstitutional,” said Wolf Blitzer.

In fact, they didn’t and it was more complicated than that.

At 10:11am, a breathless NBC justice correspondent Pete Williams got it right in an NBC/MSNBC simulcast, “They have said that it can’t be upheld under the commerce clause, the individual mandate can’t. But [Chief Justice John Roberts] said it can be upheld under the court’s taxing authority. So the bottom line here is the Supreme Court has upheld the health care law. It is a penalty, not a tax.”

That clear enough?

Probably not. Our suggestion: see how the three evening newscasts report it, or read the New York Times.

As for the broadcast networks:  Matt Lauer anchored on NBC until 10:26am, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos on ABC, with Terry Moran at the court also aired their special report until 10:26. On CBS, Scott Pelley was in Washington along with Jan Crawford at the court with their special report running until 10:30. And FNC’s Jon Scott anchored on FOX stations until 10:27

HLN, CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg and C-Span, are also giving the decision extensive coverage.

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