News organizations don't all get ruling right

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

NEW YORK (AP) -- A bid for speed in reporting the Supreme Court's decision on President Barack Obama's health care law has tripped up some news organizations.

Both CNN and Fox News Channel incorrectly reported Thursday that the law's central provision, requiring virtually all Americans to have health insurance, had been struck down. Both networks backtracked when it became clear that the court upheld the provision.

3TV followed CNN's lead, but quickly corrected itself as the news team continued reading the opinion.

"The early confusion was that Chief Justice John Roberts' opinion for the court was that you couldn't required people to have insurance because of the commerce clause where the federal government regulates business across state lines," explained Dave Cassidy from Belo's Washington Bureau. (Belo is 3TV's parent company.)

"Initially some news organizations said, 'Oh look. That's means it's unconstitutional," Cassidy continued. "They didn't read far enough down where Roberts said, "but" it is constitutional to view the requirement to buy insurance as a tax.

"The law says if you don't buy the insurance, you have to pay more taxes. So, when you read the whole thing, the chief justice of the United States, speaking for the court, has said this is constitutional."

Broadcast networks broke into regular programming to deliver special reports and generally got it right.

To get the news out quickly, competitive news organizations had to wade through pages of legal writing.