Breitbart is an American new media company that focuses mainly on its online publications at www.breitbart.com. Founded in 2007 by the late Andrew Breitbart and Larry Solov, Breitbart’s website receives around 30 million views each month. Since the death of Andre Breitbart in 2012, the company has been owned in large part by its co-founder Larry Solov and Breitbart’s widow Susannah. Following the death of Andrew Breitbart, the company began to regard itself as “the Huffington Post of the right,” as stated by Steve Bannon, the executive chairman at the time. While a previous executive of the organization made this claim, does it hold up today?
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, 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 Breitbart Politically Biased?
While Breitbart has been described as conservative, right-wing, and even alt-right in many cases, how biased is Breitbart in reality? As a first impression, the trending tab on Breitbart’s front page lists 2024, Trump Witch Hunt, Woke Wars, Biden Crime Family, China Threat, and Masters of the Universe (which links to a page on tech companies). Based solely on this, Breitbart’s reputation as a right-wing news source seems true. Regardless, let’s take a closer look at Breitbart’s bias through Biasly’s analysis and other third-party research agencies.
Biasly’s media bias rating gave Breitbart an A.I. Bias Score of positive 68%, categorizing it as Very Conservative. The Analyst Bias Score on Biasly is 36% placing it as Moderately Conservative after reviewing around fifteen articles by the analyst team to date. While they are somewhat different, these two scores agree that Breitbart has a generally conservative bias.
Other third-party bias research agencies place Breitbart in a similar class. Similarly to our own rating, Media Bias/Fact Check rated Breitbart as right on the most extreme part of their scale and refers to the company as a “questionable source,” citing extreme right-wing bias, conspiracy theories, and many failed fact checks.
While Breitbart is not a small news agency by any means, most Americans agree that the organization is not mainstream and its viewership lags behind the massive mainstream companies on either side of the aisle such as Fox News and CNN.
Source: Pew Research
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 Breitbart Online Articles
While Breitbart seems to be very much biased towards the right of the aisle, what about their articles makes them lean conservative? As an example, let’s examine the Breitbart article titled “Biden’s Deputies Urge Children to Demand Transgender Status.”
On the Bias Meter, Biasly has rated this article at 63%, making its rating Very Conservative. This is in line with the previously established biases of Breitbart as a whole. Similarly, Biasly rated this article’s author bias as 76%, making it Very Conservative as well. The title of this article alone makes the political leanings in the article clear from the get-go as it seems to place a negative connotation on both Biden’s deputies and transgenders.
The author of this article has previously written for a number of other right-leaning news sources such as The Daily Caller and InfoWars. However, it is also worth mentioning that the author has also written for more liberally biased news sources in the past, namely The Washington Post. Regardless, the author’s recent articles have all been written for Breitbart. Although the author’s previous work isn’t directly relevant to this article, it is always a good idea to know whose perspective an article is coming from when analyzing its biases.
Throughout the article, there are numerous mentions of common conservative views on transgenders. For example, the article mentions a few times the idea of “transgender ideology,” which is a term essentially exclusively used by those on the political right. There is also mention of the idea that trans children are getting permanent life-changing surgeries, which is very rarely the case. The article states, “54 percent of voters strongly oppose children undergoing physical sex-related surgery or taking cross-sex hormones. Just eight percent strongly agreed.” The implication of this quote is that children undergoing permanent surgery to change their bodies is becoming a common occurrence, but even among the small percentage of American children that identify as trans, gender-affirming surgery is far from the norm.
When expressing these conservative ideas, the article often uses extreme language in favor of its own viewpoint or against its opposite viewpoints. For example, the article mentions “the health risk from drugs, hormones, and surgery, the sexual and social isolation of people who claim to be transgender,” as if hormones and surgery are common for trans children. In reality, only reversible puberty blockers are typically used on trans kids below 16, after which hormones, with the parent’s permission, become an option. On the other hand, permanent surgery is typically reserved for adults aged 18 or older. The author of this article either does not know that drugs and surgery are far from the norm for trans kids or is deliberately leaving this information out of the article to further their own political biases. By leaving out information on the use, or lack thereof, of drugs and surgery on trans kids, the article implies that these practices are becoming commonplace for children which reinforces the right-leaning bias in present in the article.
Analysis of Breitbart’s Opinions Pieces
While Breitbart’s website does not include an opinions page, instead opting to differentiate opinion pieces from news articles by showing the author’s name, followed by a colon, in the title of the article. Other than this differentiation which is only mentioned on Breitbart’s Policy Information page, opinion pieces are not clearly marked as such. This method of labeling also causes some confusion as many Breitbart articles referencing something said by a prominent figure are titled similarly to their method of labeling opinion pieces. For example, the article “Hutchinson: Government Should Not ‘Interfere with Parental Decisions’ on Hormones for Trans Children,” is a news article while “Nolte: Trans Activist Threatens Gun Violence If Denied Woman’s Bathroom,” is an opinion piece.
As an example, let’s take a look at the previously mentioned opinion piece “Nolte: Trans Activist Threatens Gun Violence If Denied Woman’s Bathroom.” From the title alone we can get a feel for the political views presented in the opinion piece based on its loaded language. In the article, the author John Nolte seems to be trying to tie Trans people with mass shootings using a TikTok video and the recent shooting in Nashville as evidence. Nolte writes that “Yes, we have now had four people who identify as transsexual committing a mass shooting in less than five years. And there was almost a fifth.” However, there is no statistical backing provided for his claims of transgenders being any more likely to commit a mass shooting than anybody else. Although different sources count mass shootings differently, making exact statistics difficult to discern, the percentage of mass shooters in the last decade who identified as trans is 0.11% of 4,400 shootings while 96% were male according to Reuters. In comparison, 0.5% of US adults and 1.4% of Americans aged 13 to 17 identify as transgender.
Many of Breitbart’s difficult-to-locate opinion pieces are very similar in the bias of their content. Interestingly, all of the opinion pieces I was able to find on Breitbart’s site were by the same author, John Nolte, which shows there is likely very little difference of opinion among these pieces.
Who owns Breitbart?
While she owns the largest share of the company and ultimately has the final say in what goes in the company, Susie Breitbart seems to have very little day-to-day involvement with Breitbart News and her personal political affiliations are unknown, if they exist at all. While she has written occasionally for a blog called Rebelle Society, none of her blog posts on that site seem to have any political leanings. While there is little evidence to suggest much political bias from Susie Breitbart, the same cannot be said for the other two major stakeholders in the company, Larry Solov and Rebekah Mercer.
Larry Solov, the CEO of Breitbart News and one of its co-founders, is unquestionably conservative in his political views, even appearing at the 2015 Conservative Political Accion Conference. On the other hand, Rebekah Mercer is a hedge fund heiress and political donor who has helped fund a number of conservative political projects including the social media site Parler and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
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.
While Biasly rated Breitbart as Very Conservative with a bias score of 68%, other third-party research agencies gave Breitbart News very similar scores as conservative and right-wing. From these analyses, we can see that Breitbart can confidently be seen as a conservatively biased publication. While Breitbart is certainly conservative in its political biases, you can always check the biases of any particular article using Biasly.com News Bias Checker.