The Supreme Court's Obamacare Ruling: 5 Things CNN Could Learn from 'The Newsroom'
The Supreme Court's Obamacare Ruling: 5 Things CNN Could Learn from 'The Newsroom'
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
On Thursday, June 28, 2012 the Supreme Court ruled that the healthcare provisions included in the so-called "Obamacare" insurance plan were constitutional. Unfortunately, CNN didn't quite report things that way. Maybe a few tips from the new HBO program, The Newsroom, would have helped.

Whether you're ecstatic, indifferent or horrified at the Supreme Court's Obamacare ruling, you can still be amused at how thoroughly CNN got it wrong. The result was a new "Dewey Defeats Truman" (Kids, Wikipedia can explain this one to you) for the Internet age.

For about five minutes following the Supreme Court ruling (when the court's own live blog clearly explained the correct outcome), CNN's online headline read as follows:

CNN-Wrong.jpg
Sure, it was only five minutes. But that's an eternity in Internet time. More than long enough for a million screen-captures and tweets to thoroughly mock CNN.

(In the interest of fair and balanced reporting, click here to see FOX News' initial report.)

Why did this happen? How did CNN get it wrong? I'm sure the news network will have dozens of excuses and apologies in the coming days. But are any of those excuses or apologies valid? After all, this week's premiere of Aaron Sorkin's new HBO drama The Newsroom proved that accurate and fast-paced news can happen.

Maybe CNN needs a few pointers from The Newsroom. Here are five.

1. Get a "Maggie" to check the facts.

Maybe CNN will claim that they didn't have the time or the resources to fact-check the story before it ran on their website. But those of us who watched The Newsroom can call B.S. on this. After all, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) had no one but his assistant-by-default, Maggie (Alison Pill), to research an unexpected, breaking news story before the show went live.

The Newsroom scooped the world using only a skeleton crew of inexperienced assistants and bloggers. Surely CNN has a few more people than that.


2. Send Wolf Blitzer on a vacation with an attractive B-list celebrity.

In The Newsroom, Will had just returned (literally that afternoon) from a tropical island where he was keeping time with a hot starlet. The newsman came back fully recharged and ready for action. Maybe Wolf Blitzer just needed some R&R to keep on top of the news.


3. Make sure there's some unresolved romantic tension behind-the-scenes.

Would News Night have had the courage and/or recklessness to report such a breaking story if Will hadn't been so preoccupied with the return of his former paramour, MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer)? Would Mack have been so forceful about getting the big story just right if she didn't have to prove her worth to an old boyfriend?

Of course not. Obviously CNN needs to employ more exes in the situation room if they want to report the news correctly.


4. Get better connections.

About half of the great reporting in The Newsroom was the direct result of producer Jim Harper's (John Gallagher, Jr.) random connections to major players in the oil-spill story. CNN needs to take this into account when hiring. There are surely some wannabe producers or interns out there with siblings or ex-roommates who now clerk at the Supreme Court.


5. Rededicate the network to a code of accurate, reliable news without regard to sensationalism or ratings.

Actually, this one could only exist in the world of fiction. CNN would never be so crazy. Never mind.


The Newsroom airs Sundays at 10pm on HBO. CNN airs roughly all the time on television and the Internet.

(Images courtesy of CNN and HBO)



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