Link copied to clipboard!

Is The Sun Biased?

By · Feb 6, 2024 · 10 min read

Is The Sun Biased?

Since its founding in 1964 as a successor to the United Kingdom’s Daily Herald, The Sun has risen to become one of the UK’s most popular news outlets, on par with companies such as The Telegraph and The Metro, reaching 37 million readers per month.

Given its large reach and subsequently large measure of influence, the presence of bias in The Sun’s reporting is a matter of great importance.

In this article, we’ll discuss factors such as tone and diction, which are often good indicators of bias in a source, and illustrate the presence, or lack thereof, of bias in The Sun. We will do this using specific news articles and opinion pieces, then apply this analysis to The Sun’s reporting as a whole.

How does Biasly Rate News Sources?

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 The Sun Politically Biased?

Biasly provides two political bias ratings for The Sun, one of which is A.I.-generated, and the other of which is provided by Biasly’s analysts. Biasly gave The Sun a rating of Moderately Conservative, whereas the analysts provided a rating of Center, suggesting that The Sun is somewhere between conservative and centrist. Analyst scores are generated through averaging the bias of at least 15 articles, each of which are rated by a conservative, a centrist, and a liberal analyst to minimize the effects of internal bias. The A.I. scores measure positive or negative sentiments about political topics, politicians, etc. to generate a score. Biasly’s scores closely align with that of other third party organizations.

The Sun has faced frequent and intense criticism over the presence of bias in its reporting and several instances of misinformation. It has been involved in numerous scandals ranging from its false reporting on the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, a sporting disaster in which almost a hundred died due to police negligence, which The Sun claimed was actually the fault of overzealous fans, resulting in a large-scaled newspaper boycott, to other, less relevant, matters such as the involvement of News of The World and several other of The Sun’s sister companies in phone hacking in 2011.

It must be noted, however, that this sort of controversy is not uncommon among large news outlets such as The Sun. The bigger a news company is, after all, the more content is pumped out and the higher the likelihood of the appearance of such a controversy. In fact, most large news sites such as The New York Times, Vox, and The Washington Post, have been confronted with similar critiques in the past and even faced lawsuits.

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.

Another piece of information that should be taken into account is that, as a newspaper founded in the United Kingdom, a majority of the readership of The Sun is British, although there is still a sizable percentage (around 8-13%), of American readers. As a result, The Sun mainly focuses on UK politics.

While not entirely comparable, politics in the US and UK share a marked similarity. Despite different origins (one being a constitutional monarchy and the other, a republic), the UK also has two dominant parties.

Its Conservative Party’s values closely align with those of American conservatives, supporting a free market, low taxation, and immigration control, while being a tad more socially liberal.

The UK’s Labour Party also similarly mirrors the US Democratic Party, although it is more liberal. The Labour Party was created as a socialist party. Its constitution even states that:

“[The] Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential, and for all of us, a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few.”

As a democratic socialist party, the Labour Party does not focus much on social issues such as abortion, the LGBTQ community, or guns, but does hold similar beliefs to that of US Democrats.

In general, it can be said that the UK’s political parties, be they right or left, are more liberal than that of the US. This is an important perspective to consider when analyzing The Sun’s bias. A stance that might seem moderately right-leaning in the US could in fact appear significantly more conservative when viewed within the UK’s political context.

Now, Biasly’s A.I. has rated The Sun as Moderately Conservative, while Biasly’s analysts have rated it as Center-right. The analyst score is more likely to be accurate than the A.I., given the process of analysis, which includes analyses of at least 15 articles by 3 people of different political views, so we can assume that The Sun is likely to be Slightly Conservative. Biasly’s scores align closely with other third-party organizations.

Now, let’s see exactly where and why the bias comes in.

Analysis of Bias in The Sun’s Online Articles

The Sun is considered to be the least-trusted news outlet among all major UK news outlets, nonetheless still maintaining a large audience. It has a Biasly reliability score of only Fair. In this section, we’ll go over some ways that readers have and can use to detect bias in The Sun’s online articles.

We will look at five main things to do so: tone, tendency, author, diction, and expediency bias. Tone and diction refer to the author’s tone and word choice when discussing topics or people, which can further be verified by an examination of their past articles or social media accounts, which may reveal information about their beliefs (or “author”). Tendency, on the other hand, discusses the extent of these biases and their consistency throughout an article, and expediency bias discusses the bias present in titles, headlines, or other attention-grabbing text or images, which carry a heavier weight as they reach the largest audience.

It must be noted, however, that the amount of bias present will differ from article to article. Some articles may have little bias in favor of the party the news outlet is in support of, while others may even support the opposing side. Keeping this in mind, let’s examine a few of The Sun’s articles.

The first article up for discussion is “Moment Keir Starmer declares ‘we don’t want to diverge’ from EU.” The article has received a bias meter rating of Very Conservative. In it, Noa Hoffman discusses Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party since 2020, and his seemingly pro-EU remarks in a discussion on the UK’s relationship with Brussels.

To better contextualize the article, the UK left the EU due to a need for sovereignty and a disapproval of the eurozone recession, which it viewed as a result of the EU’s disastrous handling of the currency. At the time, it was a close vote, but now, more people than ever regret it, according to multiple surveys by Statista. In fact, 72% of British citizens want to have closer connections with the EU, a sentiment which Keir Starmer is seemingly in favor of.

Upon first glance, the ttone of the article is generally fairly neutral.

“Footage published by Sky News today shows Sir Keir declaring that while Britain
wouldn’t formally re-join the block, its relationship with Brussels should be much closer.”

Sentences such as the one above show little of the author’s opinion on the matter, simply stating the facts. Hoffman doesn’t state her opinion on the UK’s relationship with Brussels, for instance, only that Starmer wants to bring them closer as noted above.

In terms of diction, however, Hoffman makes her opinions known. The article tagline is a good example of such:

“Sir Keir Starmer was today accused of trying to drag Britain back into the EU after being caught on camera admitting Labour ‘don’t want to diverge’ from Brussels rules.”

By saying that Starmer was trying to “drag Britain back into the EU,” Hoffman creates the impression that the UK is reluctant to join the EU again, even though, most people in the UK regret Brexit. In addition, Hoffman uses the word “admitting” in reference to Starmer saying that the Labour Party wants to remain close to Brussels. The word “admitting” is defined as “confess to be true or to be the case, typically with reluctance” by Oxford Languages, suggesting that what Starmer has to say is something negative or wrong.

In addition, Hoffman later refers to Starmer as the “Labour boss,” referencing his title as Labour Party leader. The word “boss,” when used about work, is relatively neutral, but when applied to people who cannot strictly be called bosses by the formal definition of the word, carries a negative connotation.

From these word choice samples, we can hazard a guess that Hoffman is not a fan of Starmer or his opinions, which are mostly liberal ones, on Brexit, giving this article a conservative bias.

Last of all on the list of things to look at is author bias. Hoffman’s social media and her other articles on The Sun, however, show contrasting results. While her Tweets seem fairly liberal, critiquing the Conservative Party, her reporter’s page on The Sun shows some more conservative fare, such as “Online porn is inspiring kids to become trans, rising star Tory MP says.”

“Understand Tories are banning “Labour observers” from areas of their conference. No such restrictions on “Tory observers” at Lab last week. Labour source says “they must be worried that this perfectly orchestrated conference could be derailed”


According to Biasly, Hoffman is Center or slightly conservative on most articles which is in line both with her social media and her articles in The Sun.

In contrast, the article “Soaring migration is NOT a betrayal of Brexit” was given a rating of Centrist, reflecting The Sun’s overall centrist-conservative bias, despite discussing the same topic – Brexit. Although the author, Martina Bret, occasionally hints at her opinions on various political issues, expressing support for border control, a traditionally conservative stance, as well as for Brexit (the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union), which is also a conservative stance, the article as a whole does not present much bias and the language is factual and to the point, stating the facts without embellishment. Here are a few quotes that best show the points stated above.

“NO BREGRETS Soaring migration is NOT a betrayal of Brexit but numbers needs to come down, Gove says” The usage of the word “betrayal” in reference to Brexit implies Brexit was a positive thing that increasing migration would hinder, thus painting immigration to the UK as negative. In addition, the cheeky tag line “NO BREGRETS” implies the author believes no one should regret Brexit.

“Net migration into the UK peaked at 745,000 in the year to December 2022, which is a record high according to revised estimates published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last week.” This paragraph shows the factuality and matter-of-fact tone used throughout the article.

Analysis of The Sun Opinion Articles

Now, let’s move on to The Sun’s op-eds. Opinion articles are similar to, but still differ from, regular articles, in which the authors try to refrain from inserting their opinions. Opinion articles, on the other hand, allow for a more argumentative style while still holding on to journalistic integrity. Because of this difference, opinion articles tend to be more biased than other articles.

Here, we’ll take a look at a few of The Sun’s opinion articles.

The first article we’ll look at is “There’s no such thing as a trans child but there are plenty of young lesbians & gay people who need & deserve protection.” Despite the author’s support towards most of the LGBT+ community, Bindel repeatedly says “There is no such thing as a trans child.” The UK ranks just above the US for the percentage of the population supportive of gender-affirming care for teenagers. Aligning with this, and the fact that the UK tends to be more socially liberal, in mind, the article is thus surprisingly conservative.

The second article we’ll examine is “Rishi Sunak made a foolish gamble staking his career on Rwanda, we must fill 1 million job vacancies with Brits instead,” which does a much better job handling bias. The article was given a ranking of Center.

The author, Tony Parsons, constantly tries to maintain neutrality, criticizing both the left and the right with statements like:

“The Tories try to show they are tough on immigration while Labour try to show they are compassionate. They are both empty poses.”

“Neither party has the vision to address our skills deficit or the fact that there are some Brits who have had a work ethic bypass.”

Despite this, Parsons still mainly focuses on the issue at hand, illegal immigration, rather than critiquing or praising one party or another, making this article a very unbiased one.

Who Owns the Sun?

The Sun is published by News UK, which is a subsidiary of News Corp, which was passed down to Lachlan Murdoch by Rupert Murdoch in the fall of 2023. The Murdochs have a wide influence over the news industry at large. Lachlan is also in charge of Fox Corporation now, the company which owns Fox News.

Lachlan Murdoch

Lachlan Murdoch, Source: Wikipedia

Given Rupert’s reputation as relatively conservative and the fact that Lachlan is reported to be more conservative, it is likely that The Sun will become more conservative in the future. Chris Mitchell has even said of Lachlan that “[his] conservatism is more vigorous than that of any Australian politician.”

However, The Sun claims that:

“The Sun is shackled to no political party. We choose to support those most ­prepared to act in our readers’ ­interests. At times over the past 50 years, we have switched support for the two major parties — and clashed furiously with both.

We backed Labour in the 1970s until they surrendered to the union barons. In 1972, we backed the ­miners’ strike against a snooty Tory government.

Twelve years later, we denounced Marxist Arthur Scargill with our front page headline MINE FUHRER for ­trying to destroy the Thatcher ­government. When I joined the paper in 1978, trade union dinosaurs were running rampant.”

Despite this, The Sun has, as a whole, been Center-Right over the years and continues to be so now.

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 The Sun is centrist to conservative overall, this will not necessarily apply to every article. Some of the articles in The Sun are liberal. In addition, opinion articles are more likely to be biased than general news articles. Lastly, articles that have more bias are more likely to be unreliable and contain misinformation. You can use Biasly’s New Check to quickly determine the bias and reliability of articles from The Sun or other sources.


Most Popular

Looking to save time on finding the best news stories?
Get increased access to the site, as well as the best stories delivered to your inbox.

    I agree to the privacy policy and would like to receive email updates and promotions.

    Fighting fear with facts.
    Top stories and custom news delivered to your inbox, at a frequency that works for you.

      I agree to the privacy policy and would like to receive email updates and promotions.

      Copy link