Forbes Media, LLC offers a range of business magazines and online articles with varying topics from finance, to international business, marketing, and politics. Founded in 1917, Forbes boasts success in almost every country around the world, engaging 150 million people across every platform every month.
It can also be found on Forbes’ Who We Are page that they have a digital ecosystem of more than 140 million as well as over 50 million social touchpoints. In turn, this article will analyze Forbes Media’s coverage on political issues and determine whether or not bias is present in their reporting. By examining and explaining factors that contribute to media bias in general, a comprehensive answer as to whether or not there is bias in Forbes Media will be answered.
How Does Biasly Rate News Sources?
First, 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 Forbes Media Politically Biased?
For starters, Biasly’s A.I Bias Score for Forbes Media sits in the Center-right at 10% and a Policy Leaning score of 16% or “Somewhat Conservative.” This means that the source’s political coverage takes a slightly conservative political perspective.
Taking a look at determinations from third-party bias research agencies, MBFC also acknowledges a right-center bias based on “story selection that favors the right and the political affiliation of its ownership.” Note that ownership will be examined further in the article and can be directly found here” “Who Owns Forbes Media?”
Readers are generally going to have a neutral opinion towards Forbes Media based on political leanings and Biasly’s “Center” rating. With this rating, it will be good to look at some examples ranging slightly from either side of the political spectrum as well as articles with limited/no political leanings whatsoever. The remainder of the article will talk more about identifying and separating facts from opinion, and how to become the most informed consumer of news and media that you can be.
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 Forbes Media Online Articles
To determine the presence of bias, common metrics that Biasly uses include Tone, Diction, and Author. The tone is the attitude present in the writing but is separate from diction because it looks solely at the author’s word choice. Lastly, the Author metric refers to the author of the article, their known stances on political issues based on past articles, social media posts, etc.
The first article we’ll look at is titled “Top Senate Republican Won’t Say If He Believes Election Was Fair”. Biasly rates this article on the Bias Meter as -10% or “Center,” which a slight liberal lean (as indicated with the score of -10%). Reasons for this ranking include quotes from both Democrat and Republican politicians as well as addressing both political parties with their respective opinions.
The tone remains neutral and does not favor one side of the argument or the other. In this case, the article discusses the claims made of the 2020 election being stolen, but there is only a small left-lean that could be extrapolated from the article, as the introduction reads:
“Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo), the chair of the Senate Republican conference, declined to say whether or not he believes the 2020 election was stolen or fair during a Fox News interview on Tuesday.”
This sentence includes no positive or negative tone towards one political party or the other, however a slight-left lean can be examined later in the article:
“The comments come as former President Donald Trump has ramped up his false claims the election was stolen, announcing Monday that he will refer to his election results as “the big lie,” a phrase commonly used by his critics for his baseless election fraud claim.”
Incorporating both tone and diction, it is evident that the author establishes a negative tone towards Trump’s claims that the election was stolen, which is also viewed in the diction as the author’s very strong word choices include “false claims” and “baseless election fraud claim.”
Another example of slight-left leaning diction includes the following paragraph, which states
“Trump attempted to overturn his 2020 election loss by repeatedly volleying unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud, culminating in hundreds of his supporters storming the Capitol on January 6 in an attack that led to the deaths of five people.”
Here, phrases such as “repeatedly volleying unfounded claims” and “attempted to overturn” indicate negative connotations of former President Trump by insinuating that his continual baseless election fraud claims led to the Capitol riot and further the death of five people.
The author also separates himself from being a supporter of Trump, in saying that the claims culminated in hundreds of his supporters storming the Capitol. As a result, the author’s word choices do indicate a slight-left lean, which does align with Biasly’s analyst ratings of Forbes Media.
Lastly, author Andrew Solender works as a senior news reporter covering politics for Forbes Media, previously working for MSNBC. According to Biasly’s A.I. Bias Rating for MSNBC News, they are “Very Liberal,” which in combination with Solender’s diction used in this article, tell us that he does align himself with some liberal political views.
As far as omission bias goes, Solender does gather quotes from Fox News (a known conservative source- see their “Very Conservative”A.I Bias Rating here) and the Washington Post which are two sources with opposite political views. As a result, the article is rated in the center, with a slight-left lean, which does align with Biasly’s analysis.
Even though this article finds themself in the center of the spectrum, this is not the case for every article. This is why it is important to look out for bias, including the metrics used above such as Tone, Diction and Author (among others) in every article you read.
Analysis of Forbes Media Opinion Articles
Ultimately, there is a difference between reporting and opinion. Reporting is intended to be neutral, as seen above, giving the reader well-balanced facts and quotes from sources to then let the reader form their own opinion, without any author tone. Meanwhile, opinion pieces allow the author to express their personal views and sometimes even go as far as trying to persuade readers to sway their opinion as well.
Consider the first article, titled “The Unsung X-Factor That Could Upend The Next Presidential Election.” With an objective title, there is no language suggestive of a negative opinion towards any side of the political spectrum, indicating that this article will not be overly biased toward one side or the other. Reliable articles use neutral language and credible sources, so just going off the title, it would be safe to assume that this article does not feature an excessive amount of bias.
Another opinion article titled “The U.S. Economy in 2015: Challenges and Opportunities” is similar in that there is no presence of loaded bias in the title and indicates that the article intends to focus on providing facts using neutral language and credible sources.
While these articles and the ones above only represent a small portion of all of Forbes Media’s content, these also indicate, along with Biasly’s A.I Bias Score for Forbes Media that Forbes Media is a center source, meaning that they typically do not have a lot of bias.
Who Owns Forbes Media?
Forbes was founded in 1917 and has since switched ownership in 2014 to Integrated Whale Media Investments (a Hong-Kong based investment group) along with the Forbes family. While popular topics include Billionaires, Innovation, Leadership, Money and others, there is also a prominent section on Money & Politics.
Current CEO Mike Federle has 30+ years experience in the media business, holding top positions at Fortune magazine and Time Inc. Business & Finance Network which includes media properties like CNNMoney.
Steve Forbes also serves as Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media. In 1996 and 2000, Forbes ran for Republican presidential primaries. Keys to his platform included flat tax, medical savings accounts and a new Social Security system for working Americans– which can be reflected in his writing as he continues to promote this agenda.
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.
Although Biasly gave Forbes Media a -10% score, remember that bias varies by article and author, as well as a multitude of other factors such as Tone, Author, and Diction. Additionally, while opinion articles are more prone to having bias simply because the author has an outlet to express his/her opinions, that is not always the case. And while every article you read will have even the smallest amount of bias, Biasly’s News Check is an important resource that can be used to determine the bias in the media that you consume.