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Is OAN Biased?

By · Jul 24, 2023 · 7 min read

Is OAN Biased?

OANN Media, also known as One America News Network (or OAN), is based out of San Diego, California, and is a national TV news network that airs on various networks and is streamed on popular services such as Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and more. This cable channel was founded in 2013 and is owned by Herring Networks, Inc. OANN provides national and international news with its headline reading “Your Nation. Your News.”

Rankings report that OANN finds itself as the 351st News & Media Publisher in the United States with 4.2 million visits on desktop and mobile devices in the past month. 93% of its viewer traffic comes from the United States, with the remaining percent of users coming predominantly from Canada, the Philippines, and the UK.

This article will summarize the coverage of OANN and determine whether or not political bias is noticeable in their reporting. Our analysis helps to educate readers on the presence of bias in OANN Media by examining Biasly’s rating of the news source, analyzing bias within specific articles, and looking at OANN’s ownership.

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. a 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, biased 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 OANN Media Politically Biased?

A quick internet search of OANN media bias reveals that this news source is known for “pro-Trump” content. As a lesser-known news source, it was difficult to find credible sources that were swayed by the type of content and political bias that OANN Media presents. 

CNN Business wrote an article with the headline reading: “Meet OAN, the little-watched- right-wing news channel that Trump keeps promoting.”

The article continues to elaborate on an incident occurring during a coronavirus task force briefing, where an OAN correspondent violated social distancing guidelines to get closer and ask a question. CNN calls this respondent “a conspiracy theorist who works as a correspondent for the far-right One America News network.”

“It’s just one way in which the White House has worked to elevate OAN, a little-watched channel that arguably has more in common with a state-run propaganda network than a credible news organization.”

While CNN highlights just one incident occurring pertaining to OANN during the Trump administration, CNN does provide insights as to the lack of familiarity that most have with the channel. For example, CNN, the 3rd rated news and media published source in the United States, shares that OAN doesn’t rate well and does not have significant web traffic:

“The network would be mostly irrelevant, confined to the fringes of the conservative news media, if not for Trump’s continued promotion of it.”

Biasly’s A. I Bias Score for OAN sits at -50% “Moderately Conservative” and has a Policy Leaning Score of 37%, suggesting similarly that its political coverage is more conservative.

Relative to its competitors, Biasly aligns with other third-party research parties that they lean right and find themselves to have a Right media bias- strongly aligning with conservative, traditional or right-wing thoughts and beliefs.

The Washington Post also reported on OAN, calling it an “insurgent TV network taking ‘pro-Trump’ to new heights.” Another detailed report states that OAN has a far-right bias rating with low factual reporting and low credibility.

So, 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 OANN Media Articles

OAN has been criticized for content favoring Republican politicians such as Donald Trump. Yet, OAN is appealing to readers looking for quick and easy reads- as most stories are under one-minute readings. 

Pew Research shows that only 7% of all U.S. adults turn to OAN, while only one percent of democrats get their political news from OAN. Additionally, the majority of OAN news consumers also turn to Fox News, which is shown by the chart below:

Far More Republicans Turn to Fox News

Source: Pew Research

Additionally, Pew Research also reports on the demographic groups turning to OAN, stating that white and older adults are more likely than others to turn to OAN for news.

However, by looking at some of OAN’s articles and common metrics such as Tone, Author, and Diction, we can identify bias in the articles. Tone refers to the attitude of the writing and similarly, diction is the choice of words used by the author. Lastly, the author metric refers to the author and their history and stance on issues through previous articles or personal social media or statements.

The first article that we will look at is titled “Pentagon Reaffirms U.S. Afghan Withdrawal Despite Uptick in Violence,” where  Biasly’s network analysts gave a bias score of 43% conservative and an author bias score of 57% conservative was also given. 

First, the tone of the article is condemning as the since-removed article (the link is no longer available to the article) notes significant negative sentiments regarding the Biden administration. 

Likewise, the reporter criticizes the Biden administration for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, with diction that is not necessarily extreme, but clearly criticizes Biden’s agenda, referring to him as “The Democrat.” 

While the author’s name wasn’t able to be traced as our analyst notes labeled OAN Newsroom as the author, recall that Biasly and other third-party sources label OAN as moderately/extremely conservative, which plays a key role in identifying what side of the political spectrum this bias is stemming from.

Another article titled “Biden Signs New Executive Order” tells all about Biden’s new executive order signed this April that seeks to expand free preschool and affordable care for children and older Americans with disabilities.

The article’s tone questions and downplays the effects of the executive order with several slight digs being taken about the order. While Biasly reports the article to have a center bias rating with a positive politician portrayal, this coincides with the diction of the author. Roy Francis uses phrases such as “according to the President” as well as “the President went on to claim that” indicating that there is distrust from the author. 

Moreover, by including Biden’s approval rates at the end of the article with negative sentiment, this creates negative feelings towards the Biden administration despite the executive order’s primary goal being to make education and long-term care more affordable:

“The Biden administration also sees the order as a way to bring up the president’s approval ratings which are at an all time low, 39% nationally according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.”

Similar to the article, Roy Francis’ articles typically find themselves between center/moderately conservative. In turn, the author seeks to report on primarily factual news reporting, with headline examples such as “Libya sentences 23 ISIS members to death,” “Bible banned in schools in Utah,” and “Trial of 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooter begins.” Francis typically steers clear of articles that involve including personal beliefs and opinions in his writing.

All in all, Biasly’s analysis of OAN is useful by analyzing its articles about past and current Presidents. By looking at bias metrics such as Tone, Author, and Diction, we found this right-leaning source to be appealing to someone who identifies as moderately conservative or someone who simply wants a quick read on current American politics. 

OANN Media Ownership

Based out of San Diego, California, Robert Herring launched OAN in 2013 amidst making his success as a businessman in the technology industry. Owned by Herring Networks, Inc. They are a family-owned and operated independent media company.

Herring Networks, Inc., claimed that OAN would be a fact-based channel with Fox News as its main competitor for the conservative audience. 

Herring stated in 2013 that a critical component of OAN media “is to provide a platform where more voices can be heard, voices that are ignored libertarian and conservative voices.” In turn, much of OAN’s content is said to mirror that of Fox News.

Evaluating and Uncovering 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 bias to compare different news stories side-by-side using our bias ratings to figure out what both sides think of a political issue. 

Despite OAN’s bias score of -50%, bias varies between topics, authors, and a multitude of other factors that contribute to political bias. While some article types are more prone to political bias than others (ie. opinion versus fact-based articles), media literacy and awareness coupled with Biasly’s News Check helps to determine what sort of bias is present in the materials that you are consuming.

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