Supreme Court, Media Slips, and general un-with-itness

When I was a kid, I pretty much imagined the adult world as a complex and efficient system abounding in efficiency, professionalism, and self-restraint. The more I interact with the real world, though, and see how and why things get done, the more I’m convinced that society is perpetually on the brink of collapse.

This is sort of comforting, because it means that I will actually fit into this society of flawed individuals. There were a few things about the Supreme Court ruling on the health care mandate that reminded me of this on Thursday –


source: News Wrong On Individual Mandate

These things. CNN and Fox have gotten enough news coverage for their slipups, but the the fact that 2 out of the 3 major US news cable networks reported incorrectly in haste – on a supreme court ruling, no less – is fairly disconcerting. The race to report the news made everyone scramble semi-ridiculously on Thursday, and CNN and Fox happened to be the ones to scramble in the wrong direction. One could consider the NYT’s release conservatively paced, and they only waited for 20 minutes before reporting. What’s more, at least CNN apologized for the error –

“CNN regrets that it didn’t wait to report out the full and complete opinion regarding the mandate,” the NYT quoted. “We made a correction within a few minutes and apologize for the error.”
Fox news released: “Fox reported the facts as they came in,” even though they reported that the mandate was found unconstitutional. This in contrast with CNN’s staff memo: “We got it wrong and we take that very seriously.” CNN’s release didn’t even try to weasel their way out with the fact that the mandate was technically ruled unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause: “CNN reported that fact, but then wrongly reported that therefore the court struck down the mandate as unconstitutional”.

The strangely tabloidic media buzz surrounding the Supreme Court decision was reflected in the protesters and supporters of the mandate outside the building Thursday (the Washington Post has a pretty interested slide show of the crowd here), which included a few of these:

I have no grand conclusion about all of this1 – these were just instances of a not-entirely-together social infrastructure in the past week.2

1I never do
2This title is less catchy than Evan’s
Also, I couldn’t figure out how to make this relevant but this photo also came of the debacle, which is another cause for sadness.

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