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Does CBS News Have Bias?

By · Jul 24, 2023 · 8 min read

Does CBS News Have Bias?

Founded in 1929, CBS News is an American division of television and radio services. In their category, they are ranked as the 25th best news source. According to, 67.7 million people visited the CBS News website in May 2023. 

CBS News is a quality news organization known for its highly factual reporting. This brings us to the question, can CBS News be biased? According to Reuters Institute, CBS is the most trusted news source in the U.S., only being beaten by the community’s trust in their local TV news. 

Source: Reuters

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 considered by political analysts. These scores are rated based on seven metrics: 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, biased phrases, political terminologies, politicians, and their nicknames, the algorithms can rate the text’s attitude.  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 CBS News Politically Biased?

Biasly’s AI Score for CBS News is -36%, or moderately liberal, and they have a policy leaning score of -14%, or somewhat liberal. This means that CBS News provides coverage of the news from a somewhat liberal point of view. They have clear preferences and are biased towards the left but do a commendable job at trying to stay centered on many stories. 

Biasly’s scores closely align with many other third-party research agencies. For example, MBFC  ranked CBS News as Left-Center, because, “we rate CBS News Left-Center biased based on story selection that moderately favors the left and High for factual reporting due to proper sourcing.” 

CBS News tends to attract readers with moderate political leanings, as per Biasly’s “Moderately Liberal” rating. This is due to the news organization’s inclination towards liberal causes and individuals. Throughout this article, we will discuss various methods for detecting bias to distinguish between factual information and personal opinions. Thereby enabling you to become a more knowledgeable consumer of news.

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 CBS News Articles

Pew Research has found that 33% of CBS News viewers are Democrats, and 26% are Republican. Given the pretty balanced viewership of CBS despite its slight lean towards liberal views, is it truly biased if people from both sides are willing to watch it? We will investigate some more of their articles below to determine the signs.

Republicans rely heavily on fox news

Source: Pew Research

Average audience placement of each news outlet based on party and ideology

Source: Pew Research

When determining bias, some of the most common metrics used include Tone, Author, and Diction, which are the primary metrics we’ll focus on below. Tone refers to the attitude of the writing and is related to but distinct from diction, which is the writer’s word choices. The Author metric refers to the author of the article and his or her demonstrated stance on issues through past articles and social media posts.

The first article we will examine is titled, “CDC says vaccinated children and teachers won’t need masks in class this fall.” Biasly has rated this article as -18% “somewhat liberal” because the article maintains a sense of neutrality despite its many faults. The tone is clear throughout the article and gives clear support for the Biden administration, and covid policies without staying neutral. The left-leaning tone tends to be consistent throughout the article as well making it problematic to not have any bias in this story.

The diction in this article is also problematic as the author continues to write in favor of the left without providing opinions from the right. The author does not provide an objective lens to look through in this article and through phrases like: 

    • “Calling out ‘Conservative states and governors’”
    • “‘We do know that masks continue to be effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19 and it’s still one of the critical prevention strategies that we recommend,’ she said.”
    • “In its guidance, the CDC says current vaccines are effective against all circulating variants but will ‘continue to monitor variants to see if they have any impact on prevention strategies and how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions and will update guidance accordingly.’”
    • “’For political reasons, take away that local decision-making from those localities.’” 

The author tries to force the opinion he wants on the readers, instead of letting the readers form their own opinion on the topic. This is an example of a neutral topic that is made to be left-leaning and moves away from traditional reporting in that the author’s goal is not for their readers to make their own opinions but rather to force their opinion down their reader’s throats.

In terms of author bias, this author Max Bayer has previously shown bias against Conservatives, as many of his Twitter posts include ongoing criticism of conservative politicians. Even though Max Bayer has moved on from CBS since this article’s release, he still shows bias in the articles he now writes. This is something that may not change.

Even though this article falls on the left end of the spectrum, article bias can differ between articles and authors, even when they come from the same organization. This shows the importance of looking for the signs of bias — including (but not limited to) tone, diction, and author bias — in any article you come across.

Additionally, we will take a look at a good example that shows little to no bias throughout and is also from CBS News.  This article is titled, “IRS now sending millions more additional stimulus checks,” and Biasly’s AI rating gave it a -4% center rating. First, let’s start with the tone, which in this article is completely informative. The article talks about the last wave of stimulus checks known as “plus-ups” which is providing neutral information. Throughout the article that consistency in tone remains, leaving little room for bias. 

The author’s use and choice of words are not overly aggressive from one side or the other and provide clear-cut information about the issue. The author refrains from using biased language throughout. For example,

“The latest round of payments is part of the Biden administration’s efforts under the American Rescue Plan to deliver $1,400 to each eligible adult and child. The IRS said it has now delivered more than 171 million payments worth more than $400 billion, with the last batch of checks amounting to more than $4 billion.”

As we can see in the above example, there is no use of tonal language in this paragraph and this stays true for the whole piece. The only little sense of bias that we would get is from this author’s Twitter feed which favors slight liberal leanings. However, despite this author’s political preferences, they do well in remaining neutral and providing informative reporting to their viewers. This allows those who read the article to form their own opinions, instead of having the author give them an opinion.

Analysis of CBS News Opinion Articles

Before we answer this question, we need to distinguish between opinion and reporting. While reporting is intended to be neutral, giving the reader the facts and quotes from primary sources to let them form their own opinion, opinions are an outlet for columnists to express their personal views on the issues of the day. It is important to note that opinion pieces are an acceptable form of journalism as long as the author does not mislead their audience. While we saw elements of factual reporting in the analysis above, CBS News opinion pieces don’t seek objectivity but prioritize putting forth an opinion instead.

Consider the opinion article, “Charles Blow on Tyre Nichols’ Death, and America’s Shame.”  Looking at this title we can see immediately that the author, Charles Blow, believes Tyre Nichols’ death is a shame, which is a belief that this author is sharing with his readers. This author has opinions on the death of Tyre Nichols and is sharing them without misleading his audience on the issues. So while this piece is biased, by taking a singular viewpoint and expressing an opinion, it is positioned better, because it is not misleading the reader.

Now let’s investigate another opinion article, “Historian Yuval Noah Harari Warns of Dictatorship in Israel.” This author, Yuval Noah, is expressing an opinion of his thought on the political happenings in Israel. However, unlike the previous article, Noah uses a more objective approach to express his feelings. If he wanted something more controversial he could have made his title, “Isreal is Now a Dictatorship,” or something similar. In the title and subsequent work that follows from Noah, we find that he is a little more objective, and kind in his opinion. He still has a bias, albeit not overly political bias, but conveys his message in a semi-neutral manner that typifies the use of objective and informative writing even in his opinion piece. 

He is focused on informing his reader about his opinion and bringing his facts to light. This subtle difference is what makes the high-quality work at CBS successful and reliable. Reliable articles are marked by neutral language and facts from credible sources. These articles, in addition to those above, are only a small representation of all of CBS News content, but they indicate that the outlet is often characterized by plenty of facts and opinions — further underscoring the importance of knowing how to distinguish subjective writing from genuine reporting. 

Who Owns CBS News?

National Amusements, Inc. owns ViacomCBS, which is a subsidiary of CBS News and they derive their revenue for the company through advertising. They are operated by the third-generation leadership of the Redstone family. The President of National Amusements and chairwoman of the company is Shari Ellin Redstone. When you click on the About link at the bottom of the page on CBS News it takes you to Paramount, where their mission statement says: 

“We connect with billions of people—through our studios, networks, streaming services, live events, merchandise, and more. Our studios create content for all audiences, across every genre and format, while our networks and brands forge deep connections with the world’s most diverse audiences. In streaming, our differentiated strategy is scaling rapidly across free, broad pay, and premium.”

How to Evaluate and Uncover Bias

It can often be difficult to tell if the news you read is biased. If you have settled on a news organization, it is usually because you trust the information you are gaining. Unfortunately, many trust the information they are reading 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. 

Although CBS News received a -36% biased rating from Biasly, keep in mind that bias varies per article and that CBS News does not always produce liberal opinion articles.  In reality, it is well known to have previously published certain items with a conservative or centrist slant. General news articles are renowned for being less biased than opinion pieces; other article forms will naturally have more or less bias. To determine the bias of your favorite news articles, Biasly has a news media checker at your disposal. While every story you read will have some bias, some will keep to the facts more closely than others. For this reason, it is critical to utilize Biasly’s products to help you assess the bias of what you read on every article.

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