The Washington Examiner is a political commentary and local news source located in Washington D.C. The source has a reputation for leaning towards the conservative side. They have also previously been accused of defamation as well as false claims.
The sources’ publisher has claimed that the readership consists of higher wage earners, with over 26% having earned a master’s degree. Given The Washington Examiner’s track record, its factuality has been in question. It has received recognition for providing several good articles that are not inaccurate or prejudiced. Is the source really as biased and unreliable as many think it is? At Biasly, we make an effort to assess the trustworthiness and credibility of all media sources. Let’s look into The Washington Examiner’s dependability and correctness.
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 anyway?
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 The Washington Examiner Fare in its Reliability?
The political bias index developed by Biasly objectively assessed news organizations’ dependability. This source has a rating of 85% reliability on our meter, which suggests readers can mostly trust the Washington Examiner’s content. However, since this is based on an average, certain articles could be more or less trustworthy. Our findings were similar to those of other third-party raters showing mixed ratings, meaning that the results of reliability were mixed for correctness. This is most likely due to the fact that they have previously issued multiple revisions for stories or published non-factual content.
Let’s examine the underlying information for these rankings and talk about things to look out for while looking for reliable news sources.
Washington Examiner Accuracy and Reliability
Bias and political orientation have a considerable negative impact on the trustworthiness of news organizations. The Washington Examiner has periodically been accused, along with many other media outlets, of placing the conservative agenda before the truth. We may assess the accuracy of The Washington Examiner’s news articles, determine how well the publication provides quality sources and statistics, and determine overall how reliable the source is. As we evaluate the accuracy and factuality of each news piece, we will look for selection and omission bias and evaluate is facts and claims.
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 rates accuracy as a percentage, with zero being the least accurate and 100 representing the best. The trustworthiness of sources, quotes, and facts found in the article are used to generate reliability ratings. A full page at Biasly’s website includes dependability and accuracy ratings for newly released Washington Examiner news stories.
As we previously stated, according to the reports analytics have assessed, The Washington Examiner is generally 85% reliable according to Biasly Analysts. This score can vary from article to article, though, and the most extreme variations in dependability are caused by bias, notably selection and omission bias. For example, The New York Times has a moderately liberal bias at -35% and is only 71% reliable according to Biasly. They had one article that was 45% reliable and 6% biased towards the left titled,”1 Dead in Odesa as Russia Strikes Cathedral and Apartment Buildings.” Another article called, “How a Mexican Lager Quietly Rose to Become America’s Best-Selling Beer,” that is 65% reliable and 10% biased towards the left. As a result, stories displaying political leaning are less reliable than neutral, non-political articles.
Moving to the Washington Examiner’s article, “Beto O’Rourke announces bid for Texas governor” is rated at 36% Moderately Conservative and has a rating of 75% reliability. Concerning the selection and omission bias, the author Ryan King presents a variety of viewpoints on the Texas governor’s race. The campaign of O’Rourke is contrasted with that of other opponents, including the incumbent governor, Abbot. The analysis in this article does not favor one side over the other. The author quotes O’Rourke multiple times in the article, which is good as he is the main focus of the article. O’Rourke was quoted:
“We are losing the big, bold vision that used to define Texas, a Texas big enough for all of us.”
The quote like many others in this article do seem to shine positive light onto the candidate. Readers were able to hear from both sides in the article which increases the reliability. The title is also very direct and accurately explains what the article will be about.
This article portrays a moderate conservative stance. The Washington Examiner introduces a Democratic candidate while only offering opinions and statements from Republicans. The only other statements given in the article are from the Republican Governors Association which suggests that Beto:
“vowed to confiscate the firearms of law-abiding citizens, pledged to tear down physical barriers along the border, and supported regulations that would kill over a million jobs across the state and raise taxes and the cost of living on families and small businesses”.
The speaker fails to provide statements or action taken from Beto directly to support these claims. The language is intense in this quote, with word use such as “kill” and “vowed”. This suggests that the author wanted a harsher perspective of Beto for the readers to interpret. One statistic is given, “only 45% of Texans had a favorable view of him” which comes directly from a different Washington Examiner article that quotes the Texas Morning News, which is right leaning as well.
We will take a closer look at more examples like this below, providing a further investigation into the reliability of the Washington Examiner’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 the Washington Examiner Opinion Pieces
Opinion-style journalism is a suitable venue for reporters to express their opinions and beliefs, even if excessive opinion might be something to avoid while producing a general news article. Although opinion pieces are less trustworthy because they are subjective, they can still be worthwhile to read to increase one’s understanding of various political viewpoints. However, it is essential to evaluate the statements, quotes, and inferences used throughout an article to confirm if an article is truthful.
Quality of Sources and Facts Used
The Washington Examiner has shown to be competent at quoting trustworthy sources on all sides of the political spectrum and providing factuality, but this has not always been the case. For instance, think about, “Stefanik pledges unity and a role for Trump in GOP.” In this article from Susan Ferrechio, they only used 4 quotes. Of those 4 quotes, two of them are long and two are short. Additional evidence was summarized from the source.
In addition to that, the author’s 5 sources for the article were as follows:
- Quotes from Representative Stefanik (R)
- Quotes from Representative Roy (R)
- Republican lawmakers
- House Republicans
- Lawmakers who backed Roy
Overall the quality of the sources is poor because direct quotes are only from Republicans. The writer uses a general summary of Republican lawmakers and house members’ thoughts and feelings on the topic but fails to identify individuals directly. The credibility of statements plummets when there is no evidence of quotes or names. Furthermore, the writer quotes only negative opinions from individuals and does not provide any statistical evidence of Representative Stefanik’s actions. The article is somewhat accurate to the event overall but leaves out direct sources and perspectives from opposing sides. This article definitely leans conservative as Biasly had rated it 52% conservative and only 50% reliable. Throughout the article, the writer consistently supports the Republican side and fails to adequately show why the reader should support Stefanik with reliable evidence.
The writer Susan Ferrechio continually uses Right-leaning sources only, like Rep. Stefanik and Rep. Roy, and states random, undisclosed individuals such as “house republicans” or “Republican lawmakers”. While the article is very short it only consists of very short quotes with lots of paraphrasing. Upon looking at other articles by the writer, it seems she consistently uses a negative tone towards democrats in her articles, as seen in this: “Now what? Their agenda mostly shelved, Democrats tout a short list of accomplishments”. Her Twitter account also shows a strong conservative bias as she often expresses her unwavering support for former President Trump. The evidence, then, points the article towards a conservative side. Considering that the article’s story was strictly from one side without substantial evidence, it can be concluded that it was meant to cater to a specific demographic.
What I hear matters most from Trump supporters is that he made promises during his 2016 campaign and he kept them as president. That he got things done and will do so again. https://t.co/1vrnqYzOEw
— Susan Ferrechio (@susanferrechio) July 6, 2023
Selection and Omission Bias
Selection and Omission bias is demonstrated when a certain viewpoint, sources, or quotes are presented only from one side. The goal is to ignore facts that tend to disprove liberal or conservative claims, or that support liberal or conservative belief. In a different example from the Washington Examiner, we can see another author support “parental rights” in their article, even though they try to be objective. The article, Activists and GOP lawmakers rally at Capitol for parents’ rights” by Jeremiah Poff, portrayed the worries of parents regarding education about race and gender. Throughout the article, we read the thoughts and concerns of parents and lawmakers regarding critical race theory in public schools. However, the author fails to provide any ideas from the opposing side or any democrats. In a reliable article, there should be quoted opinions in support and opposition of the main ideas. This is essential so the reader can understand both perspectives and draw their own conclusions on the topic. The only people who are quoted are parents in opposition to critical race theory and Republican representatives. The total number of quotes from the author’s article is six, with most being a short quote, and two medium-length quotes. Here we see the quote used from a Republican source, Rep. Chip Roy:
“The American people are actually seeing it. Parents are seeing it,” he said. “They’re seeing critical race theory, they’re seeing their kids learning an hour of stuff and seven hours of garbage, and they’re saying, ‘Wait, why is this the case? We need to hope that this is awakening a sleeping giant”.
Throughout the article, Poff makes use of extreme language that disparages Democrats and any ideas of critical race theory. The author omits the fact that this is something that is typically discussed only in college and law school classes. For instance, many law schools list this class in their curriculum. Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), also stated in 2021 that it exists in these higher education fields to “help analyze whether systemic racism exists—and, in particular, whether it has an effect on law and public policy”. While this type of class typically only exists in higher education, the author is worried about critical race theory being taught in K-12 public schools.
The article’s title is very neutral and factual as it simply states what had occurred. While the article does show real parents’ views from different backgrounds, it fails to show any parent who is in support of the teachings and their reasons. In fact a 2022 study by the NAACP surveyed a wide range of adults and found “39% of all participants have a favorable opinion about CRT, while 29% have an unfavorable view, and 32% [didn’t know]”. It is shown that there is a wide range of views on this topic, which the writer, Poff, does not present. Because of this, the readers are not informed of the full story with all perspectives. By omitting contradictory points of view, the author reduces the reliability of their article and makes the credibility of the Washington Examiner questionable.
Factuality, source, selection, and omission problems are regularly seen in opinion writings. Most of the articles we’ve discussed display reliability issues and exclude necessary background information and counterarguments to the author’s stance. The Washington Examiner, a news source with conservative favoritism, has an incentive to keep promoting conservative ideas in order to serve the interests of its considerable right-wing readership. But now that we’ve addressed possible signs of credibility with these articles above, you can better stay informed as you look for reliability and sourcing issues from news sources of all types.
So Is the Washington Examiner Reliable?
Overall, it can be said that The Washington Examiner is a semi-reliable news source with an adequate reputation for their articles. However, the credibility of their articles can be questionable at times, meaning 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.