CNN's "Reliable Sources" proved to be somewhat awkward, as host Howard Kurtz dissected his own network's botched reporting of the Supreme Court's health care ruling.
CNN made headlines on Thursday when it incorrectly told viewers that the individual mandate had been struck down. The provision was in fact struck down under one clause, but upheld as a tax.
Kurtz prefaced his criticism on Sunday, saying that it was "not easy" to instantly decipher a dense legal opinion and the "bit of confusion" was "understandable" (The Huffington Post initially tweeted the wrong report as well). He proceeded to play clips of other networks getting the decision right. He turned to CNN's report, which he said "wasn't pretty," and also replayed Fox News' blunder.
Kurtz came down on the "scoop mentality" of the networks. "What drives me crazy, Michael Medved, is that if these cable news channels had waited an extra two or three minutes for their producers and correspondents to keep reading in the opinion to see the part where Chief Justice Roberts actually upheld as a tax the individual health care mandate, then they would've been right, but they don't seem to have the patience to do that," he said.
Later, he observed that CNN's error was "the kind of mistake that people remember for a long time."
Guest Margaret Carlson agreed. "It's a stain on CNN, unfortunately, your network now."
"As well as Fox," Kurtz quickly added.
"Yes. Since we're here at CNN, I thought I would dump particularly on you," she joked. Carlson suggested that the networks were over-prepared, and that people who have made mistakes before would have read the opinion more carefully.
"We have all made mistakes but if CNN or Fox or anyone else had waited two or three more minutes, maybe some TV critics would've said, 'boy they were slow because other people had it first' but wouldn't they think they'd rather have had it right?" Kurtz said.
He did go on to credit CNN for issuing a clear and thorough apology — something he pointed out Fox News did not do. The latter defended its reporting, saying that "Fox reported the facts, as they came in."
"That statement sounds Orwellian to me," Kurtz said on Sunday. "They got it wrong."