Yes, both CNN and Fox News initially got the Supreme Court’s ruling wrong when they reported the news. But a new survey shows that the ruling, accurately or inaccurately reported, wasn’t a big deal to a sizable portion of Americans.
The survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press
, found that nearly one-third of Americans (30 percent) didn’t know how the Supreme Court ruled on the Affordable Care Act last Thursday. Another 15 percent think the law was overturned.
That means that 45 percent of those surveyed didn’t know how the Supreme Court had ruled on the issue. The ignorance was bipartisan; Democrats and Republicans were evenly split on not knowing the correct outcome.
The ruling was a milestone for anyone associated with health care, including PR firms. The most potentially damaging challenge to the law—the bid to invalidate the individual mandate provision—fell short by one key vote, the surprising position of Chief Justice John Roberts.
With that challenge blunted, health-care communications plans were put into action nationwide. The high court’s decision was the biggest news in that field since the American Hospital Association acknowledged in 1969 that there was, indeed, a health care crisis.
For many, though, it just wasn’t that big a deal—especially for those under age 30.
The study found that only about quarter of those younger than 30 (24 percent) followed news about the court’s health care decision very closely. That compares with 42 percent of those ages 30 to 49 and majorities of those 50 to 64 (56 percent) and 65 and older (62 percent).
For the 1,006 adults who took the survey at the end of last week and early this week, the top single-word reactions to the court’s decision are “disappointed” and “surprised.” But maybe it should have been “really?”
Gil Rudawsky heads the crisis communication/issues management practice at GroundFloor Media in Denver. He is a former reporter and editor with 20 years of communications experience. Read his blog or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.