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Is Hot Air Reliable?

By · Feb 12, 2024 · 7 min read

Is Hot Air Reliable?

The American conservative political blog Hot Air is open about covering news through a biased lens, but that does not imply that its reporting is totally inaccurate. Some third-party raters have described them as semi-reliable because their contributors frequently use curated sources that sometimes do not meet journalist integrity standards, which explains why they don’t have a higher rating. However, others have also stated that Hot Air has not failed any checks according to their standards.

Given its reputation as a biased new source, Hot Air is not completely unreliable. Compared to some of its competitors in conservative media, Hot Air does a better job at providing some evidence to their claims. Is Hot Air as wrought with bias and a lack of trustworthiness as people believe? At Biasly, we endeavor to evaluate the accuracy and dependability of all media outlets. Let us investigate the reliability and accuracy of Hot Air.

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 Hot Air Fare in its Reliability?

The political reliability index developed by Biasly objectively assesses news organizations’ accuracy and trustworthiness. The reliability rating assigned to Hot Air by Biasly is determined by two distinct scores: the Analyst and A.I. ratings, each evaluating separate components of Hot Air’s reliability. These ratings are as follows:

  • Hot Air’s Analyst Reliability Score is “Good,” which suggests readers can trust most of Hot Air’s content online. The Analyst score focuses more on the accuracy of claims, facts, and sources presented in the article and any hints of selection and omission bias, which we will discuss further in the article.
  • Hot Air’s A.I. Reliability Score is “Fair,” which suggests readers can trust some of the sources, links, and quotes provided by the news source. The A.I. Reliability score focuses on assessing the quality of sources and quotes used including their number and diversity.

Biasly’s reliability rating for Hot Air has a Computer Reliability Score of Fair and Analyst Reliability Score of Good. Since these are average scores, the reliability will vary with each article. These findings are in line with other third-party raters.

Let us analyze the supporting data for these rankings and discuss what to watch out for while searching for trustworthy news sources.

Hot Air Accuracy and Reliability

The credibility of news organizations is significantly impacted by bias and political orientation. While many mainstream media outlets have been accused of bias, Hot Air does not shy away from its conservative leanings. They openly state in their about section that “ provides news analysis and commentary from a conservative perspective,” and will prioritize a conservative agenda over anything else. We can evaluate the integrity of Hot Air’s news stories and deduce how well the blog supports assertions with evidence and see whether this is indeed the case. We will check for selection and omission bias as we assess 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 Hot Air news stories. As we previously stated, according to the reports analytics have assessed, Hot Air is Fairly reliable (70%). 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.

A news source on the other side of the isle that puts up similar reliability numbers is Mother Jones. Their A.I. and Analyst bias scores are -30% and -25% (moderately and somewhat liberal) respectively with “Good” reliability ratings. They have one article titled “Biden Administration Begins Process of Reunifying Separated Families” with a 52% reliability rating. On the other end, they also articles like “How Flint Closed the Gap Between Black and White Suffering Under COVID” with a 100% reliability rating. Stories that display political leanings are less likely to be reliable than authors who remain neutral.

We will take a closer look at more examples like this below, providing a further investigation into the reliability of Buzzfeed’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 Hot Air 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 reading to increase one’s understanding of various political viewpoints.

surge in gas prices under Biden

Source: Hot Air

Sometimes an article can present itself as neutral but is an opinion piece once you dive deep into the reading. For example, the Hot Air article titled, “Gas prices hit seven-year high – a 40% surge under Biden,” is advertised as an objective news article. The author, Karen Townsend, includes quotes from primary sources such as statements from the White House Press Secretary and then-Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. However, her tone is heavily conservative throughout the article, and she goes out of her way to negatively paint in the Biden Administration. The commitment to the conservative cause superseded journalist neutralism principles such as objectivity to appease their conservative audience.

Quality of Sources and Facts Used

Hot Air provides commentary on news events and will frequently cite the original sources. For example, the Hot Air article, “Report: Number of illegal migrants held by ICE is back to the highest levels since March 2020” referenced multiple sources:

Author, Karen Townsend, included six quotes in the article, with each being at least a sentence long. Three of the six quotes come from one person, Raul Ortiz, who was a former deputy chief of the United States Border Patrol. One was a partial quote from Joe Biden responding to a reporter’s question on immigration policy a month before taking office. Another quote came from an unnamed spokeswoman of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Another other quote cites a directive from Ortiz. Some quotes use ellipses like the one below to highlight the most important information.

“fully vaccinated U.S. Border Patrol personnel, contractors, and visitors … [wear masks] in ‘operation settings … due to increased risk situations involving potential contact with detainees, employees, and the public.”

Overall, the author uses a handful of sources with varying levels of ideology and credibility. Two sources are nonpartisan, one leans to the left, and the other leans right. On the surface, it would appear that Hot Air’s sources are balanced with diversity. The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse is a non-partisan research organization at Syracuse University. It collects data from federal agencies like U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Border Report is a new website that exclusively focuses on news surrounding the U.S./Mexican border. The Washington Post is a longtime and widely respected newspaper with a Very Liberal rating according to Biasly. On the opposite end, Biasly rates The Washington Free Beacon as Very Conservative and the article Hot Air cites opens with a conservatively biased tone and diction.

“President Joe Biden insists that migrants pose no threat of spreading COVID-19 but treats Customs and Border Protection officials as superspreaders, according to interviews with agents and a review of agency documents.”

The varying quality of sources provides Hot Air some credibility in that they’re not fabricating news. However, the use of other conservative sources damages its reliability because they do not always rely on the most trustworthy sources to inform their audience. One could argue that Hot Air using other conservative sources encourages its readers to stay within their preferred media ecosystem.

The quotes are reliable, as most come from people who work for Border Patrol and similar agencies. They have close access to information about migrant crossings and are knowledgeable about the activity occurring at the border.

Selection and Omission Bias

Karen Townsend in the migrant crossing article picked and chose quotes that ultimately put all the blame on the Biden Administration and painted them as clueless on how to respond. For example, she did not cite Joe Biden’s full quote in her article and worded it in a way to paint him in an unfavorable manner.

“Remember when Biden declared he didn’t want ‘2 million people on our border’? Too late. We are well on the way to at least 1.5 million by the end of the fiscal year on September 30. This is the highest number of total annual detentions since 2000. Joe Biden is too stubborn and obsessed with being the anti-Trump to do his job of securing the U.S. border. Where’s Kamala? Oh, never mind.”

Below is the full quote from the Associated Press, a source Biasly rates as center-left.

“‘The last thing we need is to say we’re going to stop immediately, the access to asylum, the way it’s being run now, and then end up with 2 million people on our border,’ Biden said.”

Townsend could have at least cited the full quote and made it look like she did not quote the president out of context. That Biden quote was also before he took office. Townsend didn’t include any quotes from the administration on how they planned to address the problem.

In opinion pieces, issues with factuality, sources, selection, and omission are frequently present. The articles we’ve covered so far are mostly biased and exclude adequate relevant background to push a political agenda. As a news organization with a conservative slant, Hot Air has an incentive to continue appealing to conservative viewpoints to maintain the interests of its sizable right-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 Hot Air Reliable?

Hot Air is reliable at times because its contributors can cite objective news sources. However, readers should not completely trust everything they read on the blog because their biases frequently lead them to selectively omit information or only tell one side of the story to fit their narrative. 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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