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And a half dozen top on-air reporters and producers within the esteemed news organization told BuzzFeed they are furious at what they see as yet another embarrassment to a network stuck in third place in the cable news race, and torn between an identity as the leader in hard news and the success of their opinionated, personality-driven rivals, Fox News and MSNBC.
“Fucking humiliating,” said one CNN veteran. “We had a chance to cover it right. And some people in here don’t get what a big deal getting it wrong is. Morons.”
“Shameful,” another long-time correspondent told BuzzFeed.
"It's outrageous and embarrassing,” a third CNN staffer vented. “Maybe this will shake the company into understanding that CNN has not been the 'most trusted name in news' for a very long time."
A fourth CNN source noted simply “obviously, it’s embarrassing,” but defended legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and stressed that it’s the challenge of breaking news.
“It looked to all the world like the chief justice was going to strike down the law,” legal analystToobin later said on air, seeking to explain the CNN confusion.
It took CNN seven minutes to correct the error, from Bolduan's initial report at 10:07 am, a warning from Wolf Blitzer at 10:11 am, and finally an on air correction at approximately 10:14 am. Inside the network, staffers debated blame, and some of Bolduan's colleagues described her as a skilled professional who was misinformed by the veteran producer.
CNN also released a statement explaining the mistake: "In his opinion, Chief Justice Roberts initially said that the individual mandate was not a valid exercise of Congressional power under the Commerce Clause. CNN reported that fact, but then wrongly reported that therefore the court struck down the mandate as unconstitutional. However, that was not the whole of the Court’s ruling. CNN regrets that it didn't wait to report out the full and complete opinion regarding the mandate. We made a correction within a few minutes and apologize for the error."
In recent weeks, CNN had been defending its slide in the ratings by staking its pride on excellent news coverage, while criticizing Fox and MSNBC’s partisan slant.
The mistake was not missed by its rivals. Tweeted NBC’s PR director Erika Masonhall: "Important to underscore something I said at @NBCNews social media workshop last week: We'd rather be right than first."