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Is the Los Angeles Times Biased

By · Jan 12, 2024 · 8 min read

Is the Los Angeles Times Biased

Since its inception in 1881, the LA Times has grown to be the largest newspaper not on the East Coast of the United States, with approximately 45 million monthly visits to its website. The LA Times is one of the biggest news and media publishers in the United States, boasting an impressive 51 Pulitzer Prizes as well.



Source: Flickr

As a leading digital and print newspaper with a reputation for quality journalism, the question of whether the LA Times is biased demands close examination. The LA Times readership is evenly split between males and females and tends to appeal to people with more than a high school degree.

In this article, we will analyze the newspaper’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 the LA Times 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 to produce 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 metrics: 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, biased phrases, political terminologies, politicians, and their nicknames, the algorithms can rate the attitude of the text.  Bias scores range from -100% to 100%, with higher negative scores being more liberal and higher positive scores being more conservative, with 0% being neutral.

Is the Los Angeles Times Politically Biased?

Biasly’s rating for the LA Times is based on two scores, one from its computer algorithms which are based on AI, and one from its analysts. Biasly rated the LA Times with a computer bias score of Somewhat Liberal and an analyst bias score of Somewhat Liberal, which means it provides political coverage from a slightly liberal perspective. Analyst scores are based on an average of at least 15 articles, with each reviewed by one liberal, moderate, and conservative analyst. The more articles rated by Biasly’s analysts or AI for a particular source, the more accurate the scores become. Praise for liberal politicians and policies as well as dislike toward Republican policies and politicians contribute to this rating. Biasly’s scores closely align with determinations made by other third-party bias research agencies.

Readers with strong political convictions, likely conservative, could react to the LA Times’ slight liberal bias – which is represented by Biasly’s “Somewhat Liberal” rating. In the remainder of this article, we’ll discuss ways to identify bias so you can separate opinions from 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 subconsciously. 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 explains the actions of many news organizations.

Analysis of Bias in Los Angeles Times Online Articles

When determining bias, some of the most common metrics used include tone, author, and diction, 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 choice. 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.

The first article we’ll examine, “Lawyers argue whether the Constitution’s ‘insurrection’ clause blocks Trump from the 2024 ballot”, is rated -36% on the Bias Meter, or “Moderately Liberal”. The article strikes a neutral tone and avoids using strong emotive language. The matter-of-fact language used in the article is exemplified by:

“The case will pivot on whether the Jan. 6 attack meets the meaning of “insurrection” in the 14th Amendment. It will also hinge on whether Trump’s action meets the definition of “engaging” and whether the rarely used provision was meant to apply to the presidency.”

The only strong diction in the article comes from direct quotes, such as “‘This is a legal Hail Mary by the Democrats,’ said Mike Davis”. Having direct quotes express the opinions in the article lends the author credibility because it allows him to remain neutral. Overall, the author does an excellent job of keeping his personal opinions (and biases) out of the article.

In regards to the quotes used in the article, the author does an excellent job of gathering sources from both sides of the political spectrum. The prosecution, defense, and judge are all extensively quoted along with some of the witnesses. Therefore, there is little to no selection or omission bias present.

In terms of the author himself, Nicholas Riccardi’s Twitter profile does not reveal any overt biases. Riccardi posts about a broad range of political topics and rarely inserts his opinion, unless to point out flawed reasoning or use of statistics.

Overall, Riccardi maintains an unbiased and professional tone in the article and maintains high journalist standards. He utilized a wide range of sources that clearly show he did his homework before publishing the article. While the article is rated ‘Somewhat Liberal’, I applaud Riccardi’s journalism and, personally, would place it much closer to the center for the reasons discussed above. While Riccardi’s article is exceptionally unbiased, this is not always the case as we will see below.

Erin Logan’s Nov. 1, article titled “The Republican fight over Israel funding, explained” has a slightly liberal bias. Biasly appropriately rates the article ‘Somewhat Liberal’ as well. The author does a decent job of maintaining a cut-and-dry tone throughout the article, however; she focuses on facts and people that paint the GOP as disorganized and unproductive. For example, the word ‘problem’ here clearly indicates her bias:

“newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson has put forth legislation to send Israel more than $14 billion. The only problem? He wants to gut Biden administration domestic initiatives to do it.”

Logan’s disapproving tone toward House Republicans is present throughout the whole article, which makes her appear less credible. Additionally, her Twitter profile clearly demonstrates a strong liberal bias. She focuses on liberal issues such as support for Palestine and criticism of American foreign policy:

Analysis of Los Angeles Times Opinion Articles

Before we jump into opinion articles it is important to distinguish between opinion and reporting. While reporting is intended to be neutral, giving the reader facts and quotes from primary sources to let them form their own opinion, opinion pieces are an opportunity for columnists to express their personal views on issues. While we predominantly saw factual reporting in the analysis above, LA Times opinion pieces prioritize the advancement of the author’s argument over objectively presenting facts to the readers.

Consider the opinion article “Opinion: Bombings in Gaza add to generations of Palestinians displaced from their homes”. The title of the article is loaded with bias because it implies that Palestinians have been victimized for generations without giving any consideration to why Israel exists. The article displays strong selection bias in favor of Palestine. The author gives a history of Palestinian displacement that omits any consideration of the Israeli perspective. At the end of the article the author seems to imply Israel’s conception as a Jewish state is one of the key problems in the Israel-Palestine situation, which makes the author’s bias clear as day. Therefore, the article is strongly opinionated as you would expect from an opinion piece.

However, the article “Opinion: In war and peace, the fates of Israel and the Palestinians are inextricably bound together” by Daniel Bral is much less opinionated. While Bral does strongly posit his stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict, he maintains a more neutral position and makes points from both perspectives. I would argue that these kinds of opinion pieces, ones that deeply explore an issue without trying to convince the reader they are correct, are the best and most informative.

While these articles form just a small part of the LA Times’ content, they suggest that the publication incorporates a blend of opinion pieces and reportage — underscoring the vital need to discern between subjective writing and high-quality journalistic reporting.

Who Owns the Los Angeles Times?

In 2018, billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong purchased the LA Times for ~$500 million from Tribune Publishing. Soon-Shiong stated:

“Our hometown of Los Angeles and the state of California – really, the West Coast – needs a strong, independent news organization. We believe in the LA Times and are committed to its future.”


Source: Wikipedia

There have been accusations that Soon-Shiong does not have enough experience to run a media company. Furthermore, it has been reported, see here, that his daughter has too much sway in the company’s decisions. She is outspoken on criminal justice issues and, if true, would have a strong liberal effect on the newspaper.

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.

Even though Biasly rated the LA Times as ‘Somewhat Liberal’, bias varies by article and the LA Times does not only publish liberal pieces. The LA Times aggregates some new articles from other publications on their website, which adds more variety to the bias of articles on their site. Additionally, some article types will inherently have more or less bias; general news articles are known for being less biased than opinion pieces. 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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