July 8, 2012

9 minutes in June — reporting the Obamacare case.

Tom Goldstein — of SCOTUSblog, which got it right — examines the details of how CNN and FoxNews got it wrong.
10:08:30.... On the blog, readers are starting to taunt us via our comments feature (there ultimately will be 13,500 comments over the course of the Live Blog):  Guest, “CNN was first, guys…”; Bill, “Fox is already announcing decision”; yolanda, “TV just announced the decision beat you to it”; Guest, “Fox News beats soctusblog….”

It takes me almost one minute exactly to analyze the decision.... I unmute the conference call line and repeat what we have just posted....

Opponents of the Act, having seen the television reports, are incredulous and vocal in their responses:  Guest, “WHAT???”; Guest, “no reports says its gone!”; Republican, “OMFG”; Tim, “No it isn’t”; Ryan, “Bullshit”; Guest, “apparently you have it wrong”; Sarika, “IT IS NOT SURVIVING AS A TAX!!”; Fred, “It sounds like you guys are spinning this thing.  Knock it off and read the law!”

Others have seen enough to know that they need another news source:  Guest, “I’m outta here.  Turning on TV”; David, “I won’t be back to this site.”

And some indicate we are simply too late, and that Fox and CNN’s earlier reports are res judicata on other journalists:  John, “They already struck it down”; Guest, “The mandate is GONE.”
Ha ha. Much more at the link.


leslyn said...

"It takes me almost one minute exactly to analyze the decision.... I unmute the conference call line and repeat what we have just posted....

"David, "I won't be back to this site.'"

Don't kill the messenger! Hilarious.

Simon said...

This is a great bit of work by Tom, and it really goes to show how wildly at variance the interests of the media are with those of the public, despite the former's constant contrary pretense. There is no defensible reason for the haste that produced the screwups; the only reason is the media's desire to "get a scoop." From the public standpoint, reporting is fungible, and only the beancounters at CNN and Fox care whether you read substantially identical reports on pages that pay to CNN's advertisers or Fox.

Perhaps the most amazing thing that we learn, however, is this: The Court won't credential SCOTUSblog as press. As far as this story recounts (grain of salt given the source), that morning, no outfit behaved more professionally and more in line with the public interest than SCOTUSblog. They did literally everything right; they were rewarded by getting everything right. CSPAN, NBC, CBS, ABC, NPR, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and the White House--the White House!--all hold it in such high regard that they accepted an invitation to be part of SCOTUSblog's conference bridge. When Fox learns that SCOTUSblog is contradicting the network's own reporting, they trust SCOTUSblog so much that they immediately reverse their reporting. And yet "[t]he Supreme Court will not grant SCOTUSblog a press credential."


Can we get Seth and Amy in here?



Palladian said...

Drudge got it wrong as well.

edutcher said...

The people reporting were looking for the headline and the scoop.

Simon said...

And can you imagine how much worse it would have been if the cameras in the courtroom people had gotten their way? A million people who've never heard an opinion announcement before, who have no familiarity with the court or the legal issues, and they hear they chief announce that the commerce power doesn't support the mandate? In a world with Twitter and Facebook? Shudder.

Chuck said...

That's the best writeup of the misreporting that I have yeat seen anywhere.

I still don't get why this is such a great big story. My own theory is that the Fox News Channel was involved. And that the rest of the liberal media has a sort of an arm's-length relationship with CNN in any event.

Because this story served as an opportunity to poke fun at Fox, it became a big story. It was, in the end, an explainable, understandable wrong-headed twist that resulted in the misreporting of a story for several minutes.

Several minutes.

There is one other point worth noting. And that is SCOTUSblog's accurate recoutning of the screwup at the Diane Rehm Show. Now you just know that NPR News will be quick to distance itself from the production of the Diane Rehm Show. And they can do so with some considerable merit, as this story details.

But it is a valid question for all public radio listners, as they consider their local programming. If NPR News consists of Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Tallk of the Nation and the hourly news updates, what about the rest of the programming day? If NPR isn't responsible (and they would say they are not), who is? And that is where individual public radio listeners need to look at their local programmers.

traditionalguy said...

CNN just reported Kloppenburg has won the vote in Wisconsin...wait, Prosser has a reserve precinct reporting in...?

Pettifogger said...

I had alerted several co-workers that the opinion was coming down and SCOTUSBLOG was the site to watch. They watched conventional news sites instead and concluded Obamacare had been struck down. I had a wait a tad longer to get an answer, but I got the right answer earlier than they did.

rhhardin said...

News is an entertainment choice.

Trouble starts when an entertainment choice drives public policy.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

I suspect the crucial insight by those who got it right was to know they had to keep reading until they got to the taxing power.

The question, though, that no one wants to discuss is whether the program is workable in states that choose not to take the Medicaid funding.

Lem said...

I guess an executive summary.. is out of the question.

There is that word 'executive' in there.. OK.. just call it something else.. (brilliant)

Lawyers are very good at that.


Lem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

Other than Scotusblog, NPR and NYT performed best here. They were not in a rush. They understood that a few moments delay in reporting to assure the story was correct was the most sensible approach. There was no news need, other than scoopitis, to be "first." The idea that "the markets" were somehow entitled to the fastest most accurate report possible is ridiculous. The only market participants who had an interest in that were fast trading sculptors. They live (and die) on misperception and misinformation. The possibility of bad information is part of the risk they assume in their business.

So this is interesting in its own weird way but also meaningless. The modern way--utter fascination with the meaningless.

David said...

"fast trading sculptors . . ."

Yeah, gotta watch out for those people. The speculators too.

AJ Lynch said...

You'd have to be an "inside baseball" weeny to find this interesting.