U.S. SUPREME COURT SAYS UPHOLDS HEALTH CARE MANDATE
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) June 28, 2012
That was the tweet sent out this morning by Reuters, which got the news out about the Supreme Court decision at 10:07:43 Eastern Daylight Time, evidently just 12 seconds after Bloomberg beat them to it. (They both trumped CNN and Fox, as those networks initially misreported the ruling.)
If the tweet sounds odd to you, then you're not familiar with Reuters-ese. As we've discussed before, Reuters trains it staff to make headlines of the form "X say(s) C," where C is a complement clause missing a subject, and the missing subject is a third-person pronoun coreferring with the antecedent X. (See: "From the headline desk at Language Log Plaza" [7/28/07], "Reuters says guilty of elliptical headlines" [8/28/07], "An ursine crash blossom" [1/20/10].) So you're supposed to read this as "U.S. Supreme Court says it upholds (the) health care mandate."
When Bloomberg trumpeted its "scoop" of the breaking news, it quoted the Reuters announcement slightly differently, as "U.S. SUPREME COURT SAY UPHOLDS HEALTH CARE MANDATE." Perhaps that's what went out over the wires rather than Twitter, or perhaps Bloomberg is slightly misquoting its rival. If it was a legitimate news alert, then the writer evidently got confused between a UK-style plural construal of court (agreeing with say) and a US-style singular construal (agreeing with upholds). But style and grammar points aside, at least they got the story right.