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Does Al Jazeera Have Bias?

By · Mar 18, 2024 · 11 min read

Does Al Jazeera Have Bias?

Al Jazeera Online was founded in 2006 and is run by the Al Jazeera Media Network headquartered in Qatar. It is ranked 296 among other media sources with an average of 37,760,000 monthly visitors. The English broadcasts discuss news, current affairs, and politics 24 hours a day from Washington, DC. and London. Al Jazeera has received awards for noteworthy programming from organizations such as The Royal Television Society, The Foreign Press Association, The Association of International Broadcasters, and Amnesty International. The mission of the news source is to “provide people around the world with accurate, balanced, and impartial information.”

Consumers of Al Jazeera America

Source: Pew Research Center

How Does Biasly Rate News Sources?

Biasly’s algorithms produce bias ratings to help provide multiple perspectives on given articles. Biasly has analyzed 200,000+ news articles from more than 3,200 news sources through our A.I. technology and team of political analysts to find the most factual, unbiased news stories.

Biasly determines the degree of political bias in news sources by using Biasly’s Bias Meter Rating, in which Biasly’s team analyzes media sources’ reliability and bias and produces three scores, a Reliability Score that measures the accuracy of media sources; an A.I. Bias Score, evaluated by A.I.; and an Analyst Bias Score evaluated by political analysts. These scores are rated based on seven rating metrics including Tone, Tendency, Diction, Author Check, Selection/Omission, Expediency Bias, and Accuracy. These metrics help our analysts to determine the political attitude of the article.

Our A.I. machine-learning system employs natural language processing and entity-specific sentiment analysis to examine individual articles and determine their bias levels. By analyzing the key terms in an article such as policies, bias phrases, political terminologies, politicians, and their nicknames, the algorithms can rate the attitude of the text.  Bias scores range from -100% and 100%, with higher negative scores being more liberal and higher positive scores being more conservative, and 0% being neutral.

Is Al Jazeera Politically Biased?

Biasly uses two scores to rate Al Jazeera, with the first coming from computer algorithms based on A.I. technology, and the second originating from the observations of trained analysts. The Computer Bias Score is categorized as “Moderately Liberal,” and the Analyst Bias score is set as “Somewhat Liberal.” These ratings, based on an average of fifteen articles examined by Biasly’s analyst team, mean that the reports coming from Al-Jazeera tend to include a left-leaning bias. The credibility of the score will increase as more articles are studied. Third-party research agencies reached similar conclusions, providing a confirmation of Biasly’s ratings.

The type and degree of bias incorporated in Al-Jazeera’s articles has been seriously debated throughout the years. There is an argument that it contains progressive left-leaning ideas; however, it is also said that they are skeptical of incorporating Western-world principles and function as a propaganda site. Al-Jazeera itself says that it seeks to promote integrity rather than any particular political agenda:

“Throughout our long history, we have remained resolute in our commitment to storytelling, to balanced journalism, and to finding and covering stories. We have given a voice to the voiceless. We have shone a spotlight on the people and stories that would otherwise have remained in the dark. And we’ve always done so with responsibility and integrity.”

Al Jazeera also seeks to address the accusations of bias made against them:

“We have been accused of bias, of catalysing the Arab Spring, of having an agenda, and of favouring one group over another. We reject these allegations and our screens are a testament to our integrity.”

The source argues that it covers events with objective journalism and impartiality. Audiences have appreciated Al Jazeera for airing topics that were not discussed by other Arab stations, such as Israeli and Iranian views and speeches from American officials. On the other hand, it has been criticized in other countries for expressing favor for certain political arguments. We will take a further look into these allegations to understand the truth.

Before we begin, we need to discuss bias. Bias is a natural function of humans, and we can express it both consciously and unconsciously. Bias is one of the most fundamental forms of pattern recognition in humans. This isn’t to lower the bar and say that “all things are biased,” but to explain the process in which we may come to trust certain news organizations that display patterns of coverage.

On the media’s part, there is an incentive to retain audiences, encourage them to purchase subscriptions, and rate products positively. Bias is a two-way street, people want to see news stories about things they care about, and the media needs viewers to continue their operations. This creates a positive feedback loop that influences what stories are covered and from what perspective. This also explains the actions of more liberal news organizations.

Analysis of Bias in Al Jazeera Online Articles

According to, 44% of Al Jazeera viewers (n=5,378) are between the ages of 18 and 65. The next largest group was between 18-24, with less than 10% falling at 45 or above. Almost half the audience received a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent and almost all received at least a high school degree. Viewers are also predominantly Muslim (96.5%), followed by Christians, Jewish individuals, and other religions. Regarding life philosophy, half the sample described themselves as moderate, less than 20% were conservative, less than 5% extremely conservative, 18% liberal, and 9% extremely liberal. Interestingly, those who watched the most Al Jazeera news (4-5 hours/day) categorized themselves as liberal or extremely liberal. In 2014, the Pew Research Center determined that Al Jazeera America had a 71% left-leaning audience.  Readers must consider how one’s age, education, religion, and political preference influence Al Jazeera’s reporting and the way its audience interprets bias.

Expediency bias, diction, tone, tendency, and author are the most relevant categories that must be analyzed to determine bias. Expediency bias is the impression given from a headline, opening image, or caption that is meant to direct the reader’s thoughts toward the author’s opinion. Diction relates to the language chosen by the author to describe the topic. Word choice is analyzed to determine if the goal is to inspire an emotional reaction. Tone refers to if and how the writer favors or criticizes a certain political ideology. The frequency in which the tone is applied throughout the report is known as tendency. The author must also be evaluated to determine if they are incorporating a political agenda into their writing. These categories must be given equal attention when analyzing an article to identify the inclusion of bias.

The first article we will analyze is “How Israel has repeatedly rejected Hamas truce offers,” by Zena Al Tahhan. Biasly rated this as Center with leanings on both sides of the aisle. What supports this rating? The piece briefly explains the history of the conflict and provides a detailed timeline of the truce proposals discussed by Israel and Hamas. Despite this helpful information, there is a lack of Israeli perspectives, as the article focuses primarily on Hamas and paints their objectives in a more positive light. The diction used highlights this, for example:

“Israel launched a brutal military campaign on the Gaza Strip as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has equated Hamas with ISIL (ISIS) and Nazis, pledged to “eradicate” the Palestinian group in the wake of the October 7 attacks.”

There are several buzzwords used to capture the audience’s attention and inspire an emotional response, such as “brutal military campaign.” This would be acceptable if it was balanced with an explanation of Israel’s actions by its government and/or citizens. The tone is consistent with the unfavorable view of Israel. When speaking about the Oslo Accords (signed between 1993-95), another attempt at a compromise between the two nations, the author quotes Tareq Baconi, author of “Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance.”

“The Israelis wanted Oslo [Accords] because that’s how they maintain their colonisation; by maintaining the facade of a peace process… Hamas was showing a mirror to the Israelis to say: If you’re actually talking about the possibility of ending the occupation, then end it,” he told Al Jazeera.”

This once again promotes a negative view of Israel in the conflict, especially with the strong diction of a “facade of a peace process.” The quotes chosen were selected to support one viewpoint and neglect another. Why is this important when considering bias? To answer this, we need to look at the political implications surrounding the war in Gaza. According to Pew Research Center, more than four-in-ten (45%) Democrats surveyed (n=5,203) say Israel is going too far in its campaign against Hamas as opposed to 12% of Republicans. This represents a clear divide among Democrats and Republicans on opinions about handling the conflict.

Israel is going too far in its Hamas military operation

Source: Pew Research Center

The article has liberal tendencies that are maintained by its attitude and tone. The title also contains expediency bias, as it is suggestive and frames Israel as the sole responsible party. This is especially true with the subheading, which mentions that the denial of a recent peace offering is “only the latest  in a long history of Hamas proposals for long-term truces that Israel has rejected.” In this circumstance, the tone portrays Hamas as peacekeepers compared to Israel as the instigators.

Israel repeatedly rejecting Hamas truce offers

Zena Al Tahhan’s opinion can be found in her X posts and reposts, which focus primarily on the suffering of Palestinians as a result of Israeli actions. Her bio reads “Journalist in occupied Jerusalem,” which also hints at a negative bias of Israel that must be looked out for in her articles. She also holds criticisms of the way Western powers have addressed the conflict:

Concerning expediency bias, many images on Al Jazeera’s website are fairly neutral. The titles of several articles, however, contain words meant to elicit a specific response. Titles such as “‘Strategic error’: Iran condemns US attacks on Iraq, Syria,” “Biden sweeps South Carolina Democratic primary with ‘loser’ taunt at Trump,” “US presidential hopeful Nikki Haley uses SNL cameo to mock Trump,” and “‘War Criminal’: Arab Americans rebuff Biden campaign outreach over Gaza” promote a one-sided interpretation.

Let’s take a closer look at the last article mentioned, ‘War Criminal’: Arab Americans rebuff Biden campaign outreach over Gaza,” by Ali Harb. Biasly’s News Check Chrome Extension rated it as “Center,” but the diction is particularly strong in its depiction of Biden’s actions.

“Palestinian rights advocates have accused him of contributing to the dehumanisation of Palestinians. In October, Biden described the thousands of civilian deaths in Gaza as “the price of waging war”.

The language “contributing to the dehumanization of Palestinians” and the absence of perspectives from Israeli officials alludes to a pro-Palestine agenda.

“‘Trying’ has led to nearly 30,000 dead, massive destruction of civilian infrastructure and a more emboldened far-right, fascist government in Israel. So if the United States is ‘trying’, I would be afraid of what it would look like if the US wasn’t trying” (Abraham Aiyash, majority leader of the Michigan House of Representatives).

Again, strong diction is seen with the “emboldened far-right, fascist government in Israel.” Accompanying criticism for the action of the United States government, Biden is even labeled as a “war criminal”:

“Biden is telling Israel, ‘Here is the money; here’s ammunition; here’s the political power; here’s whatever you need, go and kill.’ That is a war criminal. That’s how we see it” (Osama Siblani, publisher of the Dearborn-based Arab American News).

The tone used continuously condemns Biden’s actions, with a similar attitude for Trump being expressed toward the end as Minnesota Governor Tim Walz tells CNN that the former president is a “threat to democracy.”

The author’s personal views, especially those relating to the Gaza conflict, can be found in several of their X posts and reposts. Harb holds criticism for individuals from both sides of the political spectrum. What does this mean for Al Jazeera? It highlights that bias comes in many different forms and does not have to support a singularly liberal or conservative agenda. Essentially, it is not always black and white.

Observing an author’s posts helps determine their stance on an issue, which is likely to be at least partially reflected in the articles they write. Readers must be aware of this so they can seek out news from all perspectives.

An example of an article that contains little to no bias is “Trump sweeps Iowa caucus: Results, key highlights, and what’s next?, which Biasly rates as “Center.” This does a great job at explaining the Republican caucus in Iowa that took place in January and maintains a neutral attitude toward the politicians mentioned. The reader is given the opportunity to understand the events in an objective manner.

Analysis of Al-Jazeera Opinion Articles

Let us first note the contrast between reporting and opinion. Reporting refers to an unbiased and objective portrayal of factual information from primary sources. This enables the reader to appropriately establish their own viewpoint on a topic. Opinion articles are an outlet for authors to share their personal perspectives. Al Jazeera contains many credible reports, but as with most organizations, degrees of bias are still noticeable. It is helpful that they label certain pieces as “opinion” if they are not directly reliant on facts.

It is also important to reiterate that articles addressing the same topics can alternate between liberal and conservative bias on the same website. One example of an article that contains bias against Democratic ideologies is “Robinson, Pelosi and the sham of Western progressive politics,” by Andrew Mitrovica. The tone condemns Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi and Canadian politician Selina Robinson. When referencing Pelosi’s response to people protesting the alleged genocide in Gaza, the author writes:

“A condescending Pelosi promptly played the victim card, saying: ‘I have been the recipient of, shall we say, their exuberance in this regard … they’re in front of my house all the time.’ Poor, pampered Pelosi.”

The diction is mocking and very strongly criticizes Pelosi. This is seen especially through the lines “A condescending Pelosi,” and “Poor, pampered Pelosi,” which encourages a cynical view of her comments and actions.

“…she has exposed the Democratic Party for the “progressive” and “inclusive” sham that it is. The Democratic Party never has and never will be the “home” to Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian Americans. They will always be treated with suspicion and contempt by a party establishment that confuses dissent with disloyalty and considers Palestinians disposable fodder.”

On the other hand, there are opinion articles that display a fairly centric view of events. In “Can the US ever break the two-party binary?” by Christopher Rhodes, the author uses neutral language and an objective tone to express his concerns with the two-party system and the upcoming 2024 presidential election in the United States.

“In short, for people who may not be excited about a Biden vs Trump rematch and who are more generally disillusioned by the binary choice of Democrats or Republicans, there is hope that additional parties could become viable in the United States.”

It is clear that opinion pieces express varying levels of credibility, which is why it is crucial for readers to exercise their own discernment when digesting news.

Who Owns Al Jazeera?

Al Jazeera was founded by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, a member of the ruling Al Thani Qatari royal family, and is currently run by the Al Jazeera Media Network. The Network runs several programs, such as Al Jazeera English, Al Jazeera Arabic, Al Jazeera Balkans, and Al Jazeera Mubasher. The organization operates as a private company despite receiving public funding from the Qatar government. It is worth mentioning that Al Thani was crucial in the success of the network, which may influence its reporting and coverage.

Sheikh Hamad

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thanim, Source: Wikipedia Commons

How to Evaluate and Uncover Bias

It can often be difficult to tell if the news you watch is biased. If you have settled on a news channel, it’s usually because you trust the information you are gaining. Unfortunately, many trust the information they are hearing because it confirms what they already believe. This is referred to as “confirmation bias.” It is important to challenge your beliefs and get third-party verification that what you are hearing is the full story. This is why we recommend using Biasly to compare different news stories side-by-side using our bias ratings to figure out what both sides think of a political issue.

Upon evaluation, it appears that there is no clear and consistent pattern to the bias on Al-Jazeera’s website. Again, it has been rated as “Somewhat Liberal,” but there are a significant number of articles, objective and subjective, that criticize left-leaning policies as well. This is obvious concerning the posts on the Israel-Palestine conflict, which dominates many of the current headlines. Biasly’s News Check is a tool that can help readers distinguish bias in individual articles, especially as it is subject to change between different reports.


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