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How Reliable is CBS News?

By · Jul 24, 2023 · 8 min read

How Reliable is CBS News?

From 2017 to 2022, Statista found that CBS News is the second most reliable news source based on their surveys. CBS News is tied for first in February 2022, with ABC News at 61% reliable according to respondents. 

Statista also stated: “Finding trustworthy, impartial news sources can be difficult for audiences in a world where fake news is in constant circulation and bias in news is a growing concern. More than 50 percent of total respondents to a survey held in early 2020 believed that there was a fair amount or a great deal of bias in the news sources they used most often. The same study found that close to 70 percent of respondents were more concerned with bias in the news that other people may consume than with their news source.”

The big question, then, is how reliable are the most trusted news organizations if there is so much distrust from the public? Considering its reputation, the publication at CBS News is not always factual. CBS News consistently receives praise for publishing factual, well thought articles on the issues of today. As infallible as they seem to be, can CBS News truly have a bias? If so, can it also have problems being a reliable news source? At Biasly, we endeavor to evaluate the accuracy and dependability of all media outlets. Let us investigate the reliability and accuracy of CBS News.

Does Reliability Matter?

Reliability, in general, refers to how trustworthy or accurate information, or in this case, a news source is. If we consider this definition, it quickly becomes clear why reliability is important in media sources. If we can’t trust the things we read then there isn’t much of a point in continuing to consume content from that source, after all. So how exactly can we gauge the reliability of a news source anyways?

There are several potential measures of reliability to look out for when trying to determine whether a media source is reliable or not. Red flags for an unreliable article can include the presence of wild unsubstantiated claims, facts dependent on other unreliable sources, heavy use of opinionated language, and more. Some indicators of a reliable news source, on the other hand, include things like:

  • Absence of subjective/opinionated language in articles
  • Credible sources cited (e.g., neutral sources, .gov, .edu websites)
  • Facts and statistics backed by multiple relevant outside sources
  • Use of primary sources when possible (e.g., interviews, quotes)
  • Information that remains consistent across news sources

So How Does CBS News Fare in its Reliability?

The political bias index developed by Biasly objectively assesses news organizations’ dependability. CBS News has an analyst reliability rating of 83%, this suggests that readers can trust most of CBS News’ publications. However, since there is an average, certain articles could be more or less trustworthy. Our findings are in line with those of other third-party raters, such as MBFC which awarded CBS News with a ‘High’ credibility and factual reporting, due to its “proper sourcing”. Let us analyze the supporting data for these rankings and discuss what to watch out for while searching for trustworthy news sources.

CBS News Accuracy and Reliability

The credibility of news organizations is significantly impacted by bias and political orientation. Like numerous other media organizations, CBS News has occasionally been accused of prioritizing the liberal agenda above facts. We can evaluate the integrity of CBS News stories and deduce how well the publication supports assertions with evidence, and see whether this is indeed the case. We will check for selection and omission bias as we asses the articles’ correctness and factuality.

Selection bias is when stories and facts are selected or deselected, often on ideological grounds, to create a narrative in support of the new sources’ ideology. Omission bias, on the other hand, is when different opinions and political views regarding a situation are left out so that the reader is only exposed to the ideological perspective supported by the author. It’s important to keep in mind these two types of biases when trying to assess an article’s level of accuracy.

Biasly assigns a percentage score to accuracy, with one being the least accurate and 100 being the most. Ratings are calculated by weighing assertions with supporting evidence, the number of reliable internal sources, and the number of reliable external sources employed. A full page at Biasly’s website includes dependability and accuracy ratings for newly released CBS news stories. As we previously stated, according to the reports analytics have assessed, CBS News is generally 83% reliable as of 2023 (this is subject to change). This score can vary from article to article, though, and the most extreme variations in dependability are caused by bias, notably omission, and selection bias. Consider also, American Military News, which has a moderately conservative bias at 26% and is only 79% reliable according to Biasly. For example, they had one article that was 98% reliable titled, ”U.S. Marine Corps account attacks Fox’s Tucker Carlson on Twitter, then deletes it, apologizes,” and another article called, “Op-ed: Guns, Politics, and Media Influence,” that is only 29% reliable. As a result, stories displaying political leaning are less reliable than neutral ones.

For instance, CBS has an article that Biasly rated as 52% reliable, titled, “Biden officials defend border response as the number of migrant children in U.S. custody tops 20,000.” This article is rated at -39%, which is liberal. Considering the selection and omission bias, the author, Camilo Montoya-Galvez, primarily uses quotes that favor the Biden Administration, instead of neutral quotes that reflect the issue at hand. For example, Montoya-Galvez says this in his article,

“‘We have made significant progress,’ one senior Biden administration who requested anonymity said during a call with reporters on Wednesday. The official, however, cautioned that ‘nobody should have the expectation this is going to be solved overnight,’ saying the Biden administration is digging itself out of a ‘hole’ created by former President Donald Trump’s asylum restrictions and reluctance to expand shelter bed space for migrant children.”

Here we can see a quote and opinion used to favor the Biden Administration, that also does not help add any information to the story. By doing this, Galvez takes away the ability of his readers to make their own opinions on the situation at the border. This is an example of selection and omission bias that is used by the author to portray a point of view of the story for the reader.

This article portrays a moderately liberal stance, mostly due to portraying Biden as doing a great job with immigration and blaming the setbacks on the former president, which goes against the grain of many CBS News stories. However, Montoya-Galvez fails to balance his sources and commentary while reporting on this challenging subject matter. If Galvez had included someone who works on the border and not just an anonymous white house official, he could provide a more holistic view of the issue. Therefore this article can be considered somewhat reliable.

We will take a closer look at more examples like this below, providing a further investigation into the reliability of CBS News’s articles. This will include its use of selection bias, omission bias, and the quality of its sources and facts used.

Analysis of Reliability in CBS News Opinion Pieces

In journalism, opinion-style reporting provides a fitting platform for journalists to articulate their viewpoints and convictions. However, it is worth noting that excessive opinion may not be appropriate when producing a standard news article. While opinion pieces are subjective and less reliable, they can still provide valuable insights into different political perspectives.

CBS News opinion pieces have had a few issues in the past with their reliability and tendency to promote liberal ideologies and individuals; the group has been involved in minimal controversies where they have been charged with having low credibility, the last falsely reported articles from CBS News according to MBFC was over five years ago. The article, “Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin Condemns Threats to Default on U.S. gov’t debt,” is a small piece on the U.S. debt ceiling crisis from a previous administration official who worked as the Secretary of the Treasury in 1995. As far as opinion pieces go, this is an excellent example of a typical opinion article. Author Robert Rubin shares his experiences and beliefs as to the effects of raising the debt ceiling without misleading his audience about what he is sharing. 

In terms of selection and omission bias in his article and the quality of facts and sources used, he does have some ground that he should cover. He is indeed an expert in his field, and using himself as a source is valid because it is an opinion piece; however, he could do better by providing more sources and facts about his topic. It is okay to use oneself as a source but quality pieces bring more to the table. 

Quality of Sources and Facts Used

CBS News can be good at using reliable sources from both sides of the ideological divide and citing facts as evidence, however, this is not the case for every article. For instance, think about, “Charles Blow on Tyre Nichols’ Death, and America’s Shame.” In this article, author Charles Blow gives his take on the death of a young Black American named Tyre Nichols. In his piece, the author gives his opinion on the state of America based on the events surrounding Nichols’ death. Blow does not use any sources, and is simply expressing his opinion, and since that is all he provides, his grandeur statements could potentially mislead his readers, making this a bad example of opinion writing. Overall, his lack of quotes and sources detracts from his ability to make a convincing argument for his opinion.

The next article we will look at will be a good example of opinion writing with good sources and facts. CBS News posted an article by Steven Portney that talks about the murder of journalists. The article, titled, “Remembering murdered journalist George Polk,” goes into detail about the murder of George Polk during the Cold War and his pursuit of truth for others. This opinion piece only has one quote, however, this piece is also quite short so we will consider that adequate. Additionally, towards the middle of Portney’s story, he provides two sources of factual information. At the end of his publication, we see two more links that can provide more information on the topic if the reader is interested. 

This is a good example of opinion writing that provides good-quality sources and quotes. Even though there are only a few sources and a singular quote, it is important to take into account the size of the pieces that we read as well. This story is adequate for interested readers to follow up on. It additionally provides the authors’ opinion in a safe manner that does not seek to misinform the reader. As such this is quality opinion writing at its finest.

Selection and Omission Bias

In a more extreme example, we will take a look at the selection and omission bias in a CBS article. The article, titled, “Threatened by Climate Change, Guatemalans See Opportunity in Migrating to the U.S.” has some major problems with its selection and omission bias among other problems. The author only focuses on the positive liberal perspective, with no information from the other side. Additionally, the headline and leading image are favorable to the issue of climate change and immigration, showing a noticeable bias towards the liberal agenda. By choosing not to incorporate opinions from the other side, and failing to remain objective in their reporting, they make their article loaded with bias. Whether it is selection bias, omission bias, author bias, or choosing a minimal amount of credible sources. They plague their article with opinions and tone to sway the reader. For example, they use only one expert source to bolster their claim and only one directly affected witness. Throughout the article, the author makes use of extreme language that disparages those who disagree with immigration and climate change. The author omits that immigration isn’t just happening from climate change but rather tries to convince us that climate change is the sole reason for the uptick in immigration. 

In the article we inspected earlier, “Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin Condemns Threats to Default on U.S. gov’t debt,” the sources, as we discussed earlier, are not enough. He only has three sources and they are other articles on the issue of the debt ceiling crisis. By choosing to omit any other opinions or reliable sources in his piece, he drives an opinion into each of his reader’s minds. This article, given its size, is still a good example of an opinion piece. However, like any story, it needs to be analyzed case by case since there is still much room for improvement. Even in his story, he omits any contradictory opinions and chooses to link other articles that sway the reader to his opinion.

In opinion pieces, issues with factuality, sources, selection, and omission are frequently present. The articles we’ve covered so far are mostly good, however, each must be examined closely. When we do examine articles, we will find, even at CBS, articles that exclude adequate relevant background and information that may contradict the author’s position. As a news organization with a liberal slant, CBS has a small incentive to continue appealing to liberal viewpoints to maintain the interests of its sizable left-wing readership. But now that we’ve enumerated typical trustworthiness indications, you may stay current by keeping yourself informed on the most accurate news.

So Is CBS News Reliable? 

Finally, it can be argued that CBS News is a mostly trustworthy news source with a good reputation for journalistic integrity and some lone exceptions, therefore the degree of truth in its publications fluctuates. The more you research media reliability and accuracy, the simpler it will be for you to spot problems with sources, selection, omission, and factuality. To help with this, you can use Biasly’s News Bias Checker to uncover reliability problems and assist you in finding the most accurate and dependable news.

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