Infowars entered the digital media sphere in 1999 under Free Speech Systems LLC. As the name suggests, the source focuses on promoting ideas of free speech and grants a platform to Jones, the founder, and his often-challenged beliefs. The site fares well as far as news sites are considered, reaching up to 10 million visits per month in 2017— more than major sites such as The Economist and Newsweek at that time.
Jones is most widely known in American news for spreading questionable claims about the Sandy Hook shooting, pizzagate, and election fraud. Just recently, Free Speech Systems LLC was forced to file for bankruptcy after a $150 defamation lawsuit filed by the families of Sandy Hook victims ruled in favor of the victims.
In this article, we will analyze the newspaper’s coverage and editorial decisions to determine if there is a discernible political bias in their reporting. Through our analysis, we hope to provide a comprehensive answer to whether Infowars is biased and shed light on the factors that contribute to media bias in general.
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, biased 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 Infowars Politically Biased?
Infowars finds itself at a major intersection of polarized news with the current state of politics in the United States. Liberals often oppose the source and protest for platforms to remove the information presented. Conservatives on the further right side of the political spectrum agree and support Jones and his endeavors not only with the site but also with his podcast and videos.
Biasly’s A.I. bias score for Infowars sits at 84% for being “Extremely Conservative”, and it assigned a policy leaning score of 85%, meaning it provides coverage from an American conservative perspective. Constant fake news-centered reporting and disdain for liberal politicians contribute to this rating.
This rating is confirmed by other independent bias rating agencies, such as Media Bias/Fact Check, which gave Infowars a rating of “extremely right”, the most extreme conservative rating possible. Their commentary speaks about the source being founded on “conservative, traditional, or right-wing thought and/or policy agendas.” This means that while the source is not completely inaccurate, the information is sifted through a specific lens.
Readers like you are more likely to have a strong opinion of Infowars based on your political leaning because they tend to favor conservative causes and people as represented by Biasly’s “Extremely Conservative” rating. In the remainder of this article, we’ll talk about ways to identify this bias so you can separate the opinions from the facts and become a more informed 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 Infowars Online Articles
The audience that Jones attracts is likely those who agree with his views the most. In the past few years, there has been a rise in alt-right theories and extreme anti-government sentiment. With this knowledge, we will aim to discover how much bias is truly present using news articles.
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 she demonstrated stance on issues through past articles and social media posts.
The first article we will examine is “Poll: Majority Do Not Believe Biden Mentally Capable Of Executing Presidential Duties”, which Biasly scored 72% on the Bias Meter, or “Very Conservative”. This rating comes from the fact that the information presented comes from a biased source, the Convention of States Action, and ignores presenting the other side of the argument.
From the headline to the closing sentence, the article is loaded with a derogatory tone toward the president. The information used as evidence is already skewed, and the author makes leaping conclusions about Biden’s mental state, backed by no clear sources. By pulling in foreign news services, other conservative personalities, and surveys that include large Democratic disapproval, the article is anti-Biden.
Expediency bias, a reader’s first impression of the article by looking at its headline, image, and summary, is representative of the article. The headline finds a way to remain more neutral than the article itself, stating similar poll facts.
Despite the tone and bias rating, the diction in the article is more or less average. The language aims to make a point that the president is not fit to serve and that Americans agree, but there are no harsh insults or statements. Instead, the author uses language and quotes from others and external organizations to prove their points. One of the only statements from the author themselves states that “Questions over Biden’s mental health continue to swirl as it is clear he cannot speak for extended periods and is often heard asking aides “What am I doing?”
Steve Watson, the author of the article, publishes more than an article a day on Infowars. He has written for other conservative publications and is staunchly anti-biden, and even critical of other conservative sources, such as in an article written about “Woke” Fox News. While an author’s personal bias does not confirm that an article would be one-sided, in this case, the reporting is consistent with the views of the author.
Even though this article falls on the right 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, author, and omission bias — in any article you come across.
To complete a more well-rounded review, a second article will be presented and analyzed. In March of 2021, an immigration article, “Senate Republicans Drop Epic Video Proving Border The Situation is a Crisis.” This story highlights tweets released by Republicans and their proposed solutions. Biasly gave the article a 38% on the Bias Meter due to its representation of tweets and videos properly, but failure to address current propositions.
While the article is short, it contains a heavy tone that confirms anti-immigrant sentiment. The tone implies that the situation at the border is out of control and information is being hidden from the American people, through the spread of information from Republicans that the federal government is, “intentionally hiding from journalists.”
The language used throughout the article creates a falsely dire situation with few claims or evidence other than the initial video. The author states that the border situation is a “humanitarian crisis” and urges action. Immigrants are also named as “aliens” and no other term, which is correct, but aids in dehumanization and a lack of sympathetic word choice.
From the get-go, this article emphasizes the urgency and a sense of secrecy from the title text, with “epic video” and “crisis” language. The image used plugs Republican senators and Republican senators only, with little other media or photos to prove any other information.
Lastly, the author, Kelen McBreen, has written plenty of articles for Infowars pushing a conservative agenda. Similar to Watson, McBreen has begun to criticize other Republican news sources such as Fox News and is up to date with current conservative talking points.
Analysis of Infowars Opinion Article
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. While we saw elements of reporting in the analysis above, objectivity was achieved. In opposition, opinion articles are meant to use some facts to pursue and prove an argument. Infowars has its fair share of these which will also be analyzed for bias, despite it being more normal in this realm.
The article that will be presented focuses on a hot topic: Trans rights. Specifically, “Trans Rights Means Trans Entitlements and the End of Civil Society.” The author presents claims that the Transgender rights movements and general acceptance of transgender communities into society are causing danger to children and indoctrinating Americans, regardless of their field.
The tone of the article is strong. It is clear that the author has an argument against transgender rights and crafts an overarching theme separating “us” versus “them”. Despite the article warning of a “culture war”, it struggles to find a middle ground and provides a clear, adamant, and urgent tone and calls to action.
Similar to tone, there is a large amount of loaded language in the story. The diction used by the author shows disdain for the LGBTQ rights movements with words and phrases such as, “cultural war”, and “hijacking of children’s education”, and crafting a narrative that trans groups are looking for “group privileges”.
Despite this obvious bias, there is still information in the article that is correct. The mention of gender reassignment surgeries in children and transgender athletes in women’s sports pertain to true dialogues in society today; however, there is a lack of understanding and nuance in the article. Information is not backed up by a source and is pushing its agenda.
This article, in addition to those above, is only a small representation of all of the Infowars content, but they indicate that the outlet is often characterized by a lot of opinions — further underscoring the importance of knowing how to distinguish subjective writing from genuine reporting.
Who Owns Infowars?
As mentioned earlier, Infowars is owned and operated by Alex Jones. He’s no stranger to the American political sphere, operating through other mediums such as the Alex Jones Show, and is extremely open and passionate about his opinions. Jones has become an advocate for free speech and right-wing conspiracies.
Source: Pew Research
Most ideas shared by Jones are anti-establishment, believing that multiple world governments have conspired to create a sort of “new world order,” and information was either concealed or crafted about events such as the moon landing, 9/11, Sandy Hook, QAnon, and the Oklahoma City Bombing. To most Americans, these are conspiracy theories. These views led to Jones supporting Trump in his bid for the US Presidency as well as false claims about election integrity in 2020.
YouTube banned four videos from Infowars for “child endangerment and hate speech”. Facebook banned Alex Jones for 30 days, removing the same videos, and Stitcher Radio removed every podcast episode for “harassment.” This was only the beginning. Jones is now permanently banned from YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, Pinterest, Spotify, LinkedIn, and a few other major sites. Now, Jones can be found on Instagram, Twitter, and Google+.
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 bias to compare different news stories side-by-side using our bias ratings to figure out what both sides think of a political issue.
Even though Biasly gave InfoWars an 84% bias score, remember that bias varies by article, and Infowars does not exclusively publish conservative thought pieces. Some article types will inherently have more or less bias; general news articles are usually known for being less biased than opinion pieces. And while every article you read will be biased to some degree, some stick to the facts better than others, which is why it’s so important to use Biasly’s News Check to help you determine the bias of what you read.