Boner Of The Year: Fox, CNN Rush To Climax On SCOTUS Obamacare Ruling

Poynter’s Craig Silverman: They’re rarely in alignment, but the summer saw CNN and Fox News come together to create the year’s most notable and high profile mistake. Both outlets wrongly interpreted the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act decision, declaring that the individual mandate had been struck down.

CNN said it on air, online, by email newsletter, on Twitter. This mistake was platform agnostic, which is one reason why it deserves error of the year status. It’s an example of how an error on a big breaking story can flow quickly, and move seemingly out of control, in a matter of seconds. The SCOTUS error takes the honor, too, because of the high profile nature of the story, and therefore of the mistakes.

Silverman points out CNN for apologized while Fox refused to admit error:

“Fox’s statement says it ‘reported the facts’ when in fact Fox, like CNN, misinterpreted the facts. CNN owned its error when it said it leapt from reporting Roberts’ words to ‘therefore the court struck down the mandate as unconstitutional.’ Fox is saying its interpretation was a fact. Not quite.”*

CNN demonstrated professionalism by accepting responsibility for its error. It then worked to help spread the correct information. CNN issued corrections via email, Twitter and on TV. If we compare the number of retweets for its errant tweet with the number of RTs for the correction, we see that the correction actually managed to attract more attention.

(h/t Huffington Post)

*Fox also took a shot at CNN’s reporter.

The Last Word On How CNN, Fox Screwed Up (July 2012 Bloomberg’s SCOTUSBlog): Although CNN and Fox both told their viewers about “conflicting” information, Fox’s broadcast was more decisive – only because of [Megyn] Kelly’s decision to monitor the Live Blog, and her willingness to state on open air in real time that “despite” the network’s report seconds before from the Court, another specific source was reporting the opposite. And because Fox had not directly integrated its web and social media teams, the network had much less to pull back than did CNN.

The two networks’ responses to how Thursday morning unfolded are also a study in contrasts. Both got identical incorrect information from their producers inside the Court, who made mistakes despite their best efforts. The reaction in some quarters at CNN has been apoplectic. But Fox – which like CNN is taking steps to avoid making a similar initial mistake in the future – generally views Thursday morning’s “transparent” broadcasting of information as it developed in real time as exactly how its reporting should function.

Related: Cock-Up CNN Gun-Shy On Reporting Andy Griffith’s Death Fearing Another SCOTUS Screw-Up July 3, 2012.

CNN’s ‘Minister Of Truth’ Howard Kurtz Fingers FOX News As ‘Orwellian’ For Refusing To Apologize Over SCOTUS Screw-Up July 1, 2012.

CNN’s Scotus Sham: ‘Wow’ Wolf Blitzer, CNN Slammed by Jon Stewart for Spreading Fake News June 29.

For your viewing pleasure, more errors plucked by Poynter:

“Herniated dick.”

VOGUE magazine correction.

Headline error of the year.

The entire Poynter list here.

Related:  Romney Jeep to China “Lie of the Year”  PolitiFac

Media rumor of the year courtesy NYP — the recipient of All Leaks ZuckerThis one Wednesday: Ann Curry to former boss Jeff Zucker‘s New!  Improved!  CNN as Anderson Cooper‘s 8p replacement. New York mag.

“To picture Curry bolting her still-awkward situation at NBC for the man who worked with her on ‘Today’ and turning into the queen of cable? Delicious.”  Huff Post.

Thursday, December 13, 2012 @ 9:13 AM


  • Jimbotalk

    No, the boner of the year belonged to David Petraeus.