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Is Hot Air Biased?

By · Feb 12, 2024 · 9 min read

Is Hot Air Biased?

Hot Air is a conservative American political blog. It provides daily political analysis and commentary on news and cultural matters from a mainstream conservative perspective. Conservative media figures such as Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity have referenced Hot Air on their radio and television shows. According to Similarweb, a software development and data aggregation company that analyzes web traffic, Hot Air’s audience is three-quarters male with approximately two-thirds of its viewers 55 and older. It attracts an average of 3,543,000 monthly visits. It is one of the most well-known conservative political news sources.

In this article, we will analyze the blog’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 Hot Air 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, 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 Hot Air Politically Biased?

Biasly’s rating for Hot Air is based on two sources, one from its computer algorithms which are based on A.I., and one from its analysts. The A.I. media rating shows which policies the blog supports and opposes based on an analysis of three hundred articles. Our analyst team evaluates a politician’s X (formerly known as Twitter) accounts, voting records, and statements made in the press to determine their leanings. The diverse analyst team includes equal representation across the ideological spectrum—conservative, moderate, and liberal—as each representative reviews the same article. Biasly rated Hot Air with an A.I. or Computer bias score of Moderately Conservative and an Analyst bias score of Moderately Conservative. These scores indicate the blog provides news coverage from a politically conservative perspective. Hot Air’s contributors’ consistent praise for Republican policies and politicians, along with frequent dislike for Democratic policies and positions contribute to these ratings. Overall, Hot Air provides political coverage from the conservative viewpoint and Biasly’s scores closely align with determinations by other third-party bias research agencies.

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 Hot Air Online Articles

When determining bias, some of the most common metrics used include Tone, Tendency, Author, Diction, and Expediency Bias, 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 her demonstrated stance on issues through past articles and social media posts.

Moreover, tendency measures the consistency of an author’s tone or bias. A ‘Center’ tendency indicates a balanced approach with no consistent bias. ‘Somewhat Liberal/Conservative’ shows slight, occasional bias, though the author generally tries to remain neutral. A ‘Very Liberal/Conservative’ tendency means the author often, but not always, leans towards a particular viewpoint. In an ‘Extremely Liberal/Conservative’ scenario, the bias is very evident throughout the article, favoring one side.

Finally, expediency bias relates to the initial impression from an article’s headline, images, or summary. ‘Center’ expediency bias presents information fairly without delay or misleading elements. ‘Somewhat Liberal/Conservative’ indicates a slight favoritism in headlines and images. ‘Very Liberal/Conservative’ expediency bias shows apparent favoritism for one viewpoint in the headline and pictures. Lastly, ‘Extremely Liberal/Conservative’ expediency bias is when headlines and images blatantly favor one side, often resembling clickbait.

The first Hot Air article we’ll examine is titled, “DC statehood is the next unicorn the Democrats are chasing,” from Jazz Shaw.

DC statehood- next unicorn

Source: Hot Air

From the title alone, the author makes it clear from the title that he does not support a policy that would turn Washington, DC into a state. The expediency bias is very conservative, given how Jazz Shaw characterizes the policy, and subsequently the Democratic Party’s agenda, as a “unicorn.” The title can influence the reader to immediately dismiss the policy before they dive deep into the article.

Jazz Shaw’s tone is harsh against the policy and the Democrats who support it. Nothing in the article demonstrates that Shaw agrees in the slightest with the Democrats or any argument in favor of DC Statehood.

“The obvious nature of the power grab that the Democrats are trying to pull off doesn’t seem to sway their media enablers in the slightest.”

The diction and strong language such as “power grab,” carry negative connotations and are designed to anger and dissuade the audience from supporting DC statehood. Other choice words include, “far-left socialists” and “scheme,” which paint the Democratic policymakers as the enemy and out of touch with Americans.

“Also, not that it matters much to the Democratic leadership that’s only concerned with the acquisition of power and pleasing the far-left socialists, but this scheme is a total loser with the voters.”

The author’s tone also establishes an “us vs. them” binary between Hot Air’s audience/conservative media and the mainstream media. For example, Shaw took issue with CBS analyst Wesley Lowery’s argument in support of the policy.

“Ah, yes. The old “taxation without representation” argument. What Lowery and his comrades fail to note is that nobody is forcing anyone to live in DC. It’s not exactly a challenge to commute to work inside the District, particularly when we’re talking about an area that’s literally not much bigger than some shopping malls.”

The word “comrade” is generally used in military and war-like settings, implying that the two sides are in conflict, and could reference a Communist label. There was also some selection bias when Shaw included a brief explanation of the “taxation without representation” argument and then quickly shot it down. He later cited a poll from Rasmussen (a conservative polling group) as evidence that Americans are not on board with DC statehood. Other polling showed different results based on the wording of the question.

The tendency consistently sides with the Republican position on DC statehood, which opposes the policy. Towards the end, Jazz argues that the true intention of policies like DC statehood is for Democrats to maintain power and pass more ambitious, revolutionary policies. At the end, Shaw seemingly roots for this plan to backfire on the Democrats.

“It’s looking more and more as if the Democrats have given up on holding on to power for more than two years and they will seek to ram through as much of their agenda as possible, no matter how much it ticks off the electorate. Let’s see how that works out for them next November. If they wind up losing control of the Senate after trying to jam all of this malarkey down the throat of the country, it will be absolutely hilarious if they kill off the filibuster before losing control.”

The author, Jazz Shaw, reveals a lot of his conservative biases and personal opinions on X. One post reveals his opposition to the policy dates back to 2010.

In summary, Jazz Shaw exhibits conservative bias from the get-go in his article on Democrats pushing DC statehood. He does not shy away from calling it a “power grab” and “scheme,” and dismisses their plan as chasing a uniform. He also goes after the mainstream media and selectively cites and quotes material that reaffirms his biases. His social media posts show that the author had already made up his mind on the issue years earlier.

Analysis of Hot Air Opinion Articles

It is crucial to draw a distinction between reporting and editorial content in the news. Reporting is intended to be neutral and draws from facts and quotes from primary sources. The information allows the audience to draw their own opinion from them. Editorials are opinionated articles, usually from an individual columnist at the news source. These articles are inherently and openly biased and are not meant to represent the views of the entire source. While there is factual information in Hot Air articles like the one above, its contributors rarely restrain themselves from bias.

Deciphering between an editorial and an objective news article on Hot Air is difficult because virtually every blog has the author’s opinion mixed in it. The conservative blog is open about its biases and its mission statement: to provide analysis and commentary on news from a conservative perspective.

Some articles on Hot Air are definitely more opinionated than others. Consider the article titled, “Shed a tear for the grown adults who took out gigantic federal loans for a master’s degree worth nothing,” in which the author, Allahpundit, mocks college graduates who didn’t land the careers they hoped for. Descriptions of the graduates include insults such as imbeciles, young suckers, and chumps. The author also described higher education and the promise of a better life and career for adults as a “scam run by corrupt elite universities…lavishly enabled by the federal government.” The author’s thoughts on higher education and students who took loans to pay for their education were clear and consistent.

There are some examples of Hot Air articles where the author’s bias is mostly neutral or subtle. The article, “LA Sheriff Seizes 16 tons of Marijuana worth $1.2 Billion,” is significantly more objective than most Hot Air pieces. Readers can infer from the title alone that the article is less biased than others. Most of the writing is factual information regarding a recent police seizure of illegal cannabis in Los Angeles County. One could argue that the tone is slightly negative when the author mentions marijuana and undocumented (as seen below). However, few comments strike out as conservative with no extreme language.

“Most of the 181 people arrested were undocumented, which isn’t surprising since this is considered a cartel operation.”

All the articles mentioned here are only a small representation of Hot Air’s content but they indicate that the conservative ideology heavily influences its writings. These examples underscore the importance of knowing how to decipher between subjective writing and objective journalism.

Who Owns Hot Air?

Conservative author, blogger, and political commentator Michelle Malkin founded Hot Air in 2006. She was the CEO of the blog until 2010 when Salem Media Group (formerly Salem Communications) bought Hot Air. The Salem Media Group, which also owns other conservative media like RedState and Townhall, targets socially conservative audiences. The current staff has prior and current occupations in conservative politics. For example, its managing editor Ed Morrisey hosts a daily podcast, the Ed Morrisey Show, and occasionally fills in for other conservative radio hosts on their respective shows. Contributor editors John Sexton and Karen Townsend previously worked for the conservative news and media watchdog groups Breitbart and Media Research Center respectively.

Wikipedia (Hot Air)

Source: Wikipedia

How to Evaluate and Uncover Bias

To wrap things up, Hot Air is an openly biased conservative news source. Readers can expect its writers to analyze and commentate on current news stories through a conservative lens, which may not give a full picture of what happened. 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 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.


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