By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Will heads roll after CNN meltdown? Should they?

Three quick items on the Supreme Court’s decision to (mostly) uphold the Affordable Care Act:

1. I was watching CNN while waiting for the ruling in the mistaken belief that the other cable nets would only be worse. I must admit, listening to Wolf Blitzer and John King trying to backtrack from their whopper made for riveting television. Will heads roll? Should they? People make mistakes, but good grief.

2. Wish I could remember who wrote this, but yesterday I read an analysis that attempted to prove Justice Anthony Kennedy would vote against the individual mandate. So far, so good. But the writer went on to argue that since it was unimaginable Chief Justice John Roberts would come out on Kennedy’s left, that was the end of Obamacare. Personally, I think Roberts looked into the abyss and saw there was no bottom.

3. I thought this was a good time to recycle what I wrote about garcinia cambogia extract for the Guardian after the ACA was approved in 2010. The law isn’t perfect, but it’s an enormous improvement over the status quo. It was — and is — a BFD.

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  1. Stephen Stein

    Individual mandate votes were hard to read, especially since everyone was focused on the Commerce clause (that rationale by the government failed).

    A funny: Tweets from politicians who were trusting CNN (and not SCOTUSBlog).

  2. Stephen Stein

    I guess that last is a running link. The deleted Tweets about ACA are from about 10:15 AM today.

  3. C.E. Stead

    I seem to be the only conservative of my acquaintance who is happy with what I have read of the law. SCOTUS DID say that the individual mandate was unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause, preventing an enormous expansion of Federal/Executive power. It is allowed under the power to tax, and is now the largest middle-class tax cut in history.

    That’s OK – you CAN repeal a tax, but not a SCOTUS expansion of Federal power.

    To me, this also applies to the effort to mandate a private entity (health insurance company) offer a product (contraception) for FREE to its customers (Catholics). I never did think this argument was about health care or contraception, but was instead a back-door atempt at Federalization and an erosion of states’ rights.

    So CNN was half right – the ‘mandate’ IS unconstitutional; it just wasn’t struck down.

    (Any progressives going to apologize to the Court, esp. Roberts, for calling them right wing puppets for months?)

  4. As long as they were first, it didn’t matter to CNN if they were right. This becomes a defining issue for the November election.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Margie: I also think it’s hilarious that Fox got it wrong too, and no one seems to care. Low expectations.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Margie: You were in the news business for a long time. Do you really think it doesn’t matter to CNN? I think this was a come-to-Jesus moment for them that is going to reverberate for a long time, even if no one loses his job. And though I missed it, I understand that Blitzer named the anonymous producer who was supposedly responsible several times. Despicable. Complicated decision, easy to get wrong. It was the higher-ups who decided to run with it.

  5. Rick Peterson

    @CE:being a Progressive means never having to say you’re sorry.

  6. BP Myers

    @C.E. Stead says: It is allowed under the power to tax, and is now the largest middle-class tax increase in history.

    Fixed that for ya.

  7. Fox isn’t about being right. It’s about being Right. Not a subtle difference these days.

  8. C.E. Stead

    Thanks, BP!

  9. James Craven

    Of course, this showcases the problem with “I got it first” journalism. We don’t have the option any longer of reading the decision, taking a breath, and reporting it. Too bad.

  10. Adam Riglian

    @Dan: I didn’t see it live, but on the replay they name the producer before they know that they’re wrong. The reporter on site credited him with an “according to producer Bill Mears,” so he was named before Blitzer wrongfully piled extra blame on him.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Adam: Mears is a pretty senior guy. I actually know his wife slightly. Although there are still aspects to this we don’t know, it strikes me that he has the standing that this really might be his responsibility.

      Still, the real issue is the culture that encouraged people to rush this onto the air in a bid to be first without being 100 percent certain they were right.

  11. Mike Rice

    “America’s health care system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system”
    Walter Cronkite


  12. Steve Rhode

    Heads will roll at CNN, but probably not at the producer or on-air level. Some staffer who was being pressured to read the syllabus faster than her/his counterpart at the other networks will be shown the door.

    As far as the decision itself – it reaffirms that there was a reason that the legislative branch comes first in the constitution, a reason why HR terms are only 2 years, and a reason not to leave it all up to the states.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Steve: The more I think about this, the more I believe it wouldn’t be seen as that big a deal if CNN generally were not in freefall. Just adds to the perception that they can’t do anything right.

  13. L.K. Collins

    Poor CNN. I wonder if Ted Turner will try to buy it back and turn it into something worth watching again?

  14. Bob Gardner

    To CE:
    You called this the largest middle-class tax increase in history. How did you arrive at that conclusion? Are there figures somewhere to back up your claim?

  15. Aaron Read

    Didn’t CNN badly blow a SCOTUS call on Bush v Gore as well? I have a vague recollection of that, and it makes me wonder if the media cares a lot more about this than the public does. For better or worse…

  16. Rick Peterson

    @MikeRice: with all due respect, some of the hagiography about the beloved Uncle Walter is a bit over the top. Every JAG in the DOD will tell you that the “Uniform Code of Military Justice” is “neither U, nor C, often not M and usually not J”. Walter knew a good rhetorical irony when he saw it but I’m not sure he was “timeless” as much as he was a guy with whom you agreed.

  17. Patricia Daukantas

    @Aaron: I don’t recall the Bush v. Gore details (or I’ve blocked them out of my mind). However, I think the public remembers “who was right and who was wrong” a lot longer than “who was first by a few seconds or minutes.”

  18. Mike Rice

    @Rick Peterson: As a self-employed member of the middle-class who is currently paying nearly $20,000 per year for health insurance to cover myself and my significant other I doubt that the recent SJC decision will affect my life at all. Every year my health insurance premium increases as coverage continues to lessen. I agree with Walter Cronkite in this matter as it appears that I will continue to be on my own with respect to health care coverage.

    To that point, I went in for a MRI on my knee recently and before I was fed into the tube and before the loud banging began I asked the technician if my health insurance policy was paying for this, I found the response to be vile: “If your health insurance wasn’t covering this, you wouldn’t be sitting in that chair.” How pathetic. Again I agree with Walter Cronkite as I’m on my own with respect to health insurance coverage like so many other members of the middle-class in this country who continue to do their best to survive in this Depression-like economy.

  19. Rick Peterson

    @Mike: we’re on the same page. I’m also self-employed but have the advantage of a working wife who can include me on her policy. I recently had day surgery on a torn rotator cuff. They wouldn’t touch me until I indemnified the hospital for any non-payment by the insurer. Walked into the hospital at 10 AM and walked out at 6 PM. When the bill came a few days later, it was for $43,000! I’m not paying that amount, nor is the insurer, I suspect. They still haven’t told me what my share is after the Kabuki Theater of marking up in order to discount down. (I called the hospital to determine if this was a typo. It wasn’t but they offered me a payment plan of $100 per month. I should live so long. Just seems to be a lot of creative accounting taking place.)
    Be well.

  20. Mike Rice

    @Rick(thanks for posting): Considering the current state of this country’s economy, health care and political systems along with slowly sinking into bankruptcy and Third World status here’s a bumper sticker that says it all: “Get Comfy With Chaos.”

    I feel sorry for the youth and future generations of this country who will be left to deal with the hellacious consequences of a nation being cemented in dysfuctionality.

    Good health to all.

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