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."
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 21: Anderson Cooper speaks during a rehearsal before a taping of Jeopardy! Power Players Week at DAR Constitution Hall on April 21, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 27: CNN anchor Erin Burnett attends the launch party for CNN's 'Erin Burnett OutFront' at Robert atop the Museum of Arts and Design on September 27, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: Wolf Blitzer of CNN attends the PEOPLE/TIME Party on the eve of the White House Correspondents' Dinner on April 27, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for People)
MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 22: CNN correspondent John King talks to the audience before moderating a debate sponsored by CNN and the Republican Party of Arizona at the Mesa Arts Center between Republican presidential candidates U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on February 22, 2012 in Mesa, Arizona. The debate is the last one scheduled before voters head to the polls in Michigan and Arizona's primaries on February 28 and Super Tuesday on March 6. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 04: Televison Personality Piers Morgan on stage at BritWeek 2012's 'An Evening With Piers Morgan, In Conversation With Jackie Collins' benefiting Children's Hospital Los Angeles at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on May 4, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25: Howard Kurtz attends the 'Knife Fight' Special Screening during the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival at the Borough of Manhattan Community College on April 25, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Journalist Fareed Zakaria attends the TIME 100 Gala, TIME'S 100 Most Influential People In The World at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 26, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for TIME)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Ashleigh Banfield the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights 2011 Ripple of Hope Awards dinner at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers on December 5, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images for RFK Center)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: Donna Brazile attends the PEOPLE/TIME Party on the eve of the White House Correspondents' Dinner on April 27, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for People)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 09: CNN correspondent Candy Crowley takes part in a Q&A with the audience following the HBO Documentary Screening Of 'Gloria: In Her Own Words' at Time Warner Center Screening Room on August 9, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for HBO)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 11: Dr. Sanjay Gupta attends the CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute at The Shrine Auditorium on December 11, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 20: TV personality Anthony Bourdain speaks at the Great Googa Mooga 2012 at Prospect Park on May 20, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Television anchor, Chris Cuomo attends Love Heals, The Alison Gertz Foundation For AIDS Education 20th Anniversary gala at the Four Seasons Restaurant on November 9, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)