Lessons From the Supreme Court Mistake

By Alex Weprin 

The Lost Remote newsletter brings you the the best in streaming news, from staffing changes to premiere dates to trailers—to the latest platform moves. Sign up today.

The New Yorker tallies six lessons gleaned from coverage of the Supreme Court healthcare ruling. The story focuses on SCOTUSBlog, CNN and Fox News, and what they all did right, and wrong. SCOTUSBlog is rightly heaped with praise for its coverage, while the Court itself is chastised for how it distributed the decision, and now giving SCOTUSBlog press credentials.

It mentions the efficiency with which CNN distributed the incorrect information about the decision, and the inefficiency that ended up saving Fox further embarrassment.

There was also praise for FNC’s Megyn Kelly, and her handling of the situation:

4. Megyn Kelly is the brains of the Fox News operation. Fox News corrected its mistake much more quickly than CNN; it also corrected it fairly cleanly, avoiding the minutes of “we just don’t know anything!” equivocation that make the CNN coverage so painful to look back on. How? A minute and twelve seconds after the misreporting, as Karl Rove prepared for some satisfied rumination, Kelly all but grabs the mic. Citing SCOTUSblog (naturally), she says that it looks like “the individual mandate is surviving as a tax.”

Give her extra points for the intonation of “tax,” which foresees days of conservative spin—we are talking about her intelligence, not the extent to which she is a force for good. At times, watching Fox, one wonders if the politicians and commentators around Kelly realize that she is the smartest person in the room, or if they are dizzied by their own voices, and only register a blonde presence. But someone at Fox knows: Goldstein notes that the producer in charge “trusts Kelly completely,” and so, on her reading, “allows the network to switch gears on the fly.” A minute and a half after her first correction, she apparently notices that the banner below her televised face is still wrong: “Kelly interjects again, saying on the air (at 10:10:41): ‘We may need to update our lower third.’ ” If one enjoys seeing a decisive woman save the men around her from embarrassment, it might be worth tuning into Fox News more often. (Of course, it was decisive in a different way for Fox never to apologize for its mistake.)

And while Fox trusts Kelly, it’s worth noting that Kelly trusted SCOTUSblog over the network’s own reporters. (So did the White House.) Let’s stipulate again that SCOTUSblog did a great job.