RedState is a conservative news and opinion outlet founded in 2004. Considering its reputation as an American conservative political blog, the source has an incentive to write in favor of their audience. In our previous article, we looked at the presence of bias in RedState articles, which equally impacts the source’s reliability. At Biasly, we look to evaluate the accuracy and reliability of all media outlets. Let us investigate the reliability and accuracy of RedState.
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 anyways?
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 RedState Fare in its Reliability?
Biasly has created and developed a political bias index, which assesses the dependability of news organizations. Biasly’s rating for RedState has an Analyst rating of 47% reliability on our meter, suggesting that users must use caution when reading and trusting RedState’s online content. Additionally, a Computer reliability rating of 53% based on A.I., was given as well, indicating a Grade C, or Fair rating, regarding the use and quality of sources. Keep in mind, however, that this is an average, and that certain articles can be more or less trustworthy. Our findings also align with ratings from third-party sites as a result of poor sourcing of information and failed fact checks.
We will analyze the supporting data for these rankings and discuss what to watch out for while searching for trustworthy news sources.
RedState Accuracy and Reliability
The credibility of news organizations is impacted primarily by their bias and political orientation. As a more extreme right-wing news source, RedState pushes a republican agenda above facts in their articles. We will look at some examples of this below, in turn evaluating the integrity of Red States’ accuracy and reliability. Beyond this, we will deduce how well they source claims with factual evidence and check for selection and omission bias, which is an important factor in assessing an article’s 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 for accuracy– one being the least accurate and 100 being the most. Ratings are calculated by an equation that weighs assertions with supporting evidence. A full page of dependability and accuracy ratings for RedState articles can be found here.
Recall that our analysts give RedState a reliability rating of 47%. Although this score varies between articles and authors, the most extreme variation in reliability stems from selection and omission bias, which we will explore below. Consider also an extreme left-wing source such as HuffPost UK, which has a rating of “Very Liberal” and is deemed 67% reliable according to Biasly’s analysts. While they have one article rated 94% reliable titled “DHS Chief: U.S.-Mexico Border Is Closed, But Unaccompanied Minors Accepted ” whereas another article from the same source was only 44% reliable, titled “Calif. Venue Reportedly Boots Matt Gaetz, Majorie Taylor Greene’s America First Rally.” As a result, this demonstrates that articles from the same source can heavily vary in terms of their reliability, and also articles with heavy political topics and leanings are less reliable than neutral reports.
For example, a RedState article titled “Trump ‘Dominates’ Florida Freedom Summit, Collects More Key Endorsements” is rated at 36% or “Moderately Conservative.” Concerning selection and omission bias, the author does include the following regarding a political counterpart:
“NBC News– no friend of Trump– printed a headline about the evening proclaiming, ‘Trump dominates Florida Republican Party event on Ron DeSantis’ home turf.’”
With this being said though, there is still an overwhelming amount of negative sentiments towards Democrats and the Biden administration, including that “he [Trump] nails Joe on the disastrous Biden-created border crisis” or that “things will change if he’s president again.”
As such, this article has a conservative stance because it has multiple negative sentiments towards the Biden administration, but also includes a heavy deal about Republican politics and the battle between Trump and DeSantos– with the majority of comments about the two Republican politicians being overwhelmingly positive compared to their counterpart. Had the article included a more balanced view of both parties and their agendas, it would have captured a more holistic view. Instead, this article can be viewed only as somewhat reliable due to the presence of selection and omission bias.
We will further investigate examples like this below and look into the overall reliability of RedState– including a look at selection and omission bias as well as the quality of sources and facts used.
Analysis of Reliability in RedState Opinion Pieces
Opinion-style journalism allows authors to express their opinions and beliefs, something that would attract authors to RedState, as they can publish blogs portraying a conservative political viewpoint. General news articles look to avoid excessive opinions, though, meaning that these opinion pieces are less trustworthy because they are subjective.
RedState’s opinions have had their fair share of reliability issues in the past, with a tendency to use extremely heavy emotionally loaded language, and negative language surrounding their political counterparts on the left. An example of a failed fact check includes RedState claiming that Facebook tried to “shut down” the campaign to recall the California Governor. Gavin Newsom. The claim made by RedState was proven false, where PolitiFact reveals the following:
- “Redstate.com claimed that Facebook attempted to ‘shut down’ the effort to recall Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom when it stopped accepting advertisements for the recall.”
- “But Facebook stopped running political ads regardless of party affiliation last fall and did not single out the Newsom recall effort, which has gained and not lost momentum.”
More examples taking a look at the quality of sources, facts used, and selection and omission bias can be viewed below.
Quality of Sources and Facts Used
Evaluating the quality of sources and facts used is critical to understanding the reliability of a news source. For example, this article titled “Trump’s Bump Stock Ban to Face Supreme Court Scrutiny.” The article from author “Streiff” uses three quotes, one of medium length and two long quotes.
Additionally, here are the twelve sources cited in the article:
- SCOTUSblog– Independent news & analysis of the U.S Supreme Court
- Wikipedia– 2017 Las Vegas shooting
- Wikipedia– Stephen Paddock
- S. Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs (press release)
- Donald Trump’s Twitter account
- US Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit
- US Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit
- US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
- US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
- Bloomberg Law
While the quality of sources overall is legitimate, however, the use of Wikipedia and Donald Trump’s Twitter (which was banned) as a source is unreliable. Having said that, the remainder of the sources, including several federal court cases, and White House documents, we can say that the quality of sources and facts used is for the most part, reliable.
Additionally, this article does not excessively lean to the right, which we’ve seen with some RedState articles, so credit to the author for maintaining an objective standpoint surrounding the US Supreme Court’s decision to hear arguments on the Trump Administration’s outlawing of “bump stocks.”
Pertaining to the factors that damage reliability, Biasly’s chrome extension gives a rating on all of these indications, which can be seen for the article below:
- Opposiite viewpoint- none
- Oppsite sources- excellent
- Quote length- excellent
- Multiple quotes- excellent
- Unique sources- excellent
- Multiple sources- excellent
An article that shows misinformation and a lack of sources would be “New Poll Numbers on DeSantis Are Going to Make Dems and ‘60 Minutes’ Spit.” Biasly rates this article as 38% reliable, falling well below half of its information being reliable. Emotionally loaded language that damages the reliability of this article includes “Chew on this a little, Democrats. Hope you enjoy it.” This is said in context of polling numbers from The Capitalist– which cannot be proved as reliable upon research.
Beyond that, a lack of sources, diverse sources, opposite sources and number/length of quotes is what damages an article’s reliability. While Biasly’s chrome extension gives the article an excellent score for multiple quotes, unique sources and multiple sources, the quotes used are not very long, and there is a lack of opposite sources used (poor ratings).
Selection and Omission Bias
A more extreme example from RedState shows an emotionally loaded title as “2024, Joe Biden, and Catastrophic Failures.” Author Ward Clark makes no attempt to be subjective in his writing, including only negative opinions on Democrats and the Biden administration. Beyond this, the source consistently uses right-wing sources that corroborate his personal views; for example,
“If the Democratic Party is smart, they’ll already be looking for ways to ease old Joe Biden out the door. President Biden grows more befuddled by the day, his (handlers’) economic policies are a disaster, the southern border is an open wound, and he spends more time on the beach in Rehoboth than doing any actual work.”
As far as diversity of sources and the presence of opposite sources, Biasly’s chrome extension indicates a poor rating for opposite sources, however a good rating for multiple sources. So, while the article does have some variety in its sources, the reliability is still questionable because there are not many opposite sources used that provide a holistic view of the issue.
The author uses selection bias to create a narrative in support of his ideological grounds, obviously, grounds that disagree with the Biden administration. The author also omits any of the Biden administration’s positive work and qualities, once again exposing the reader only to the author’s political perspective.
In opinion pieces, issues with factuality, sourcing as well as selection and omission bias are frequently present. So far, all of the articles we’ve covered have had right-leaning bias to some extent. Moreover, as a self-proclaimed conservative news organization, RedState does have a small incentive to continue to appeal to the conservative viewpoints of its right-wing readership. Now that we’ve gone over several examples of the quality of sources and facts as well as omission and selection bias, you can keep these things in mind when reading future news pieces.
So Is RedState Reliable?
In the end, it can be argued that RedState must be read with caution, as their reliability is questioned between our analysis and Biasly’s ratings. While there are some examples of proper sourcing and facts used, there is a lot of emotionally loaded language and not enough objective reporting for the source to be reliable. With this being said, the more you research reliability and accuracy, the easier it will be to spot issues with sources, selection and omission bias, and factuality. You can use Biasly’s News Bias Checker as a resource to uncover reliability problems and to help assist you in finding the most accurate and dependable news.