With bated breath and fingers poised over their tweet button, news outlets were ready to broadcast the historic decision by the Supreme Court issued this morning on the micro-blogging site Twitter.
Within the first few seconds and minutes of the high court's announcement to uphold the constitutionally controversial "individual mandate" as part of President Barack Obama's healthcare bill, a slew of tweets were issued, communicating mixed messages. Victory was being shouted on both sides.
Some news outlets initially stated the decision was ruled unconstitutional, including CNN, Fox News and allegedly Diane Rehm from NPR, which may have added to the confusion on Twitter.
(Screenshot via Poynter)
(Screenshot: C.W. Anderson via Poynter)
CNN's Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin has come out to explain why the network initially reported the mandate was ruled unconstitutional, something it has been getting grief for ever since. The Associated Press staff was even requested by their own colleague to "stop taunting" CNN. Mediaite notes Toobin explaining that Chief Justice John Robers while reading the Supreme Court's decision first explained why a mandate to force citizens to purchase health insurance was unconstitutional. Then, Toobin said, "he turned." Toobin goes on say that Roberts then launched into his explanation of how the mandate could be upheld as a tax. CNN issued this official statement:
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.
Watch Toobin's clip:
Some politicians also jumped the gun though too, as pointed out by the National Journal (via Drudge Report). The Blaze retrieved some of these now deleted tweets from a site we reported on a couple weeks ago called Politwoops, which archives the deleted tweets of politicians:
After a few moments of the Twittersphere wondering what the actual news was, it became clear which side the Supreme Court fell on. Here are the tweets issued by the SCOTUS blog:
News outlets were taking to the micro-blogging site the most at first, followed by political figures and the general public.
Tweets by the Executive Director of the Democratic National Convention.
The president did not weigh in right away on Twitter, but his account, which is managed by his staff, did eventually post a few statements:
Twitter did not crash at any point during the morning or early afternoon, although it was slow at times.
Analytics as to how much traffic was weighing in on Twitter will be provided soon. If the news of Beyonce being pregnant last year, topped Twitter charts, it could be interesting (and telling) to see how today's mandate ruling compares.
Mitt Romney has not yet tweeted about the decision.
This story has been updated to include more information.