Media coverage of Supreme Court Arizona immigration ruling declares victory, defeat for Obama

The Supreme Court's ruling on the Arizona immigration law presented a challenge for instant-analysis and 140-character summation. Reuters' tweet:

When people questioned how this was a defeat, Reuters Social Media Editor Anthony De Rosa said he isn’t responsible for content that goes out on the Reuters wire, adding, “that came directly from the wire without edit.”

On its live blog, CNN characterized the ruling as a victory for Obama, quoting Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger:

"On the larger federal question of state vs. government, this is a clear victory for the Obama administration because it stated quite clearly the state can't pursue policies that undermine federal law," she said. "It’s clearly under the federal purview."

New York Times White House Correspondent Peter Baker noticed the difference in the CNN and Reuters coverage, tweeting, "Scotus in the Twitter era!"

@CNNbrk tweets, a few minutes apart, avoided characterizing it one way or another. About 25 minutes later, Reuters' U.S. news feed tweeted the news with a link to a story, without characterizing the ruling as a defeat. Politico's Marty Kady noticed the disconnect in live TV coverage:

But on Twitter, Fox News made good use of its limited space:

The New York Times updated its homepage with breaking news alerts announcing the Court's decisions, at one point having three alerts simultaneously. declared the decision a "blow" to the law, but not to the Obama Administration.
Fox framed the story by focusing on Arizona.
Drudge emphasized the defeat.
The Huffington Post homepage headline said the law was "gutted" (in quotes) but did not quote anyone who said that.

Related: Which sites saw the ruling as "glass three-quarters empty," which saw it as "glass quarter full" (PastPages)

  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.


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