Starting as The Examiner, this source started as a small local newspaper and magazine for the Washington DC area. In 2005, the name was changed to The Washington Examiner and changed ownership to Philip Anschutz. The magazine source became increasingly conservative as it gained popularity and an increasing number of conservative writers were hired.
The website hosts a number of written articles, podcasts, videos, and even a book-of-the-month service. They tend to focus on federal and national news and update their media hourly. They offer a wide range of main topics that they focus on. Such categories include defense, energy, environment, immigration, finance, healthcare, infrastructure, and space.
As a leading digital and print newspaper with a reputation for quality journalism, the question of whether The Washington Examiner is biased demands close examination. There is not much information surrounding the background of this source’s users, however, according to its publisher, 77% of the Examiner’s readership are men and 47% of holds a college degree. It could be assumed that most of this source’s consumers are right-leaning as it is a smaller source with years of conservative writing.
In this article, we will examine the sources’ reporting and editing choices to see whether there is any obvious political bias. With the help of our research, we intend to fully address the question of whether The Washington Examiner is biased as well as offer insight into the elements that generally lead to media bias.
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. 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 Washington Examiner Politically Biased?
The Washington Examiner started as a political commentary opinion magazine based out of Washington DC. A decade later, this source now comments on national and local news in the Metro DC area. Because the company started primarily with commentary opinion articles, it may be of concern that some staff still prioritize a right-leaning bias throughout their articles.
Biasly’s Computer Bias Score for the Washington Examiner sits at “Moderately Conservative,” and it gave a Policy Leaning score of Moderately Conservative, which means it provides political coverage from an American conservative political perspective. Praise for conservative politicians and policies as well as dislike toward Democrat policies and politicians contribute to this rating.
Readers of the Washington Examiner are more likely to lean politically right because of their tendency to favor conservative causes and people as represented by Biasly’s “Moderately Conservative” rating. In the remainder of this article, we’ll talk about ways to identify this bias so you can separate the opinions from the 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 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 Washington Examiner Online Articles
When determining bias, some of the most common metrics used include tone, tendency, expediency bias, author background, 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 choices. When there is a consistent tone throughout in the same manner, there is a high tendency. 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 is entitled “History Has Some Bad News for Biden Democrats”. Biasly has rated this article as “very conservative.” Part of the reason for this rating is that, even though the offer tries to maintain neutrality, the tone suggests based on previous statistics midterm success for democrats would be extremely difficult. Looking at the future, the midterm elections were not a drastic loss for the Democrats. The article had failed to consider Biden’s current rankings and the vote of younger generations.
Expedience bias shows the biases readers may experience simply from a first glance over an article. Such things include the title, any images, and the general format of the article. For this article, there are no images and the general format of the article is neutral and consistent throughout. The title does demonstrate some bias as it suggests negative news for Biden supporters, based on history. This is not a great sign as the article initially starts out with conservative bias in the title.
The tone indicates if the author used any opinion, support, or negative portrayals of politicians. The tone is center-right throughout. The article explains statistics of previous midterm elections with the dependence on presidents’ ratings and distributions of parties.
“In midterm elections, members of the president’s party are stuck with the president’s record…The opposition party, in contrast, has a choice of terrain”.
This sentence is simple with some negative tone towards the president, which indicates a conservative bias. It is essential that explanations in articles are clear and unbiased as it allows the reader to have a true perspective, without interference. The readers are free to engage with the material without distortion. Because the tone is consistent throughout there is not a high tendency bias, which occurs when a certain biased tone is used throughout the article.
As far as the extremity of the diction used, there does not appear to be any extreme or foul language directed towards anyone in this article. All people, political parties, or organizations are referred to in a neutral manner.
In terms of the author himself, Michael Barone is considered a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner. Barone was educated at Harvard and Yale. He is known as the author of the political book “Almanac of American Politics.” His Twitter profile and similar writings demonstrate a high knowledge of politics and a very articulated, generally unbiased vocabulary in his articles.
War in Ukraine, terrorism in Israel, threats to Taiwan: we’re witnessing a gathering storm, reminiscent of the 1930s. What are the consequences for America? I look at that question in my latest Washington Examiner column. https://t.co/twjxPtLzxb
— Michael Barone (@MichaelBarone) October 11, 2023
However, he is well known to be a conservative and sometimes demonstrates more right-leaning comments.
Economic issues suddenly are working for the otherwise beleaguered Republicans. It’s an example, as I write in my latest column, https://t.co/auRzGrjH5X of the New Deal political world turned upside down.
— Michael Barone (@MichaelBarone) October 6, 2023
In the article, Barone slightly demonstrates omission bias in selectively gathering data from center-right-leaning news sources like RealClearPolitics for public opinion polls of Biden and his approval ratings. In a quote,
“Will surges in violent crime, illegal immigration, and inflation continue in 2022? If so, that’s not good news for the Biden Democrats.”
The author fails to provide evidence of these surges in recent years while claiming that is would be not good for Biden. Other website sources like Tabletmag were sourced explaining how either party could become the leading majority party. These were both limited in bias.
Overall, the author strives for objectivity and provides select information from sources that mostly do not follow any specific agenda. However, because of the tone of the article, suggests that the author’s beliefs still shine through. While some elements of this article were neutral, the article was found to be right-leaning overall, which aligns with our analysis of the Washington Examiner as a company with a tendency to lean right in its biases.
While this article falls very slightly on the right side of the spectrum, article bias can differ between articles and authors, even when they come from the same organization. These differences show the importance of looking for the signs of bias — including (but not limited to) tone, diction, author, and omission bias — in any article you come across.
To demonstrate, here’s one more article that demonstrates some bias throughout and also comes from the Washington Examiner: “Five moments in Rittenhouse trial that could sway jury” Biasly’s Computer bias rating is “Center,” as the language throughout almost strictly states the actions and the events of the trial. The title is neutral and is clear as it does not appear to have any clickbait language in it as well as any other wording that might confuse the reader. It appears to be stating that there will be significant moments ahead for the Rittenhouse trial. There are four images in the article, including Rittenhouse crying, a victim who was shot, attorney Binger holding the gun used in the act, and Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder. The pictures are broad showing both sides of the case, which decreases any expediency bias from either side. The author, however, did elaborate on some of their tone and language.
“Perhaps the most compelling testimony came from Rittenhouse himself. The one-time YMCA lifeguard sobbed on the stand just moments after taking it, crying so hard that the judge had to call a recess.”
“Binger hammered him with questions”
His analysis of Rittenhouse’s action on the stand leaning to the right in support. Crying is a normal action that occurs in court and it seems like this is a pull for emotions from the readers. This is the same as stating his YMCA lifeguard position, as it is irrelevant to the trial. Words used such as “hammered” suggest a much harsher form of questioning than what had actually occurred, possibly swaying the reader towards the right. While this tone is an example of a Somewhat Conservative tendency, overall, this article is mostly unbiased.
Analysis of Washington Examiner Opinion Articles
Before we answer this question, we need to draw the distinction between opinion and reporting. Reporting is intended to be neutral by providing the reader with facts and quotes from primary sources to form their own opinions and thoughts. However, opinion articles are an outlet for columnists to express their own personal views on current issues.
These can inherently contain biases. While we saw some elements of factual reporting in the source’s traditional news articles in the prior section, the Washington Examiner’s opinion pieces don’t seem to prioritize objectivity but aren’t extremely biased either.
Consider the opinion article ““Hillary Clinton wants to rebuild communities without marriage”. The title is biased towards conservatives. The title suggests that Clinton is against marriage, in an attempt to shock the catered audience as marriage is very important to most conservatives. The title demonstrates that the author does not intend to provide a fair and objective article regarding the conversation Clinton had. The author says, “Clinton doesn’t seem to care about this historic decline in marriage. She should.” Clinton does not mention marriage once in her statements, thus this provides no evidence of her true feelings about marriage. Examples like this prove that opinion articles are created to please conservatives and keep them reading their articles. Biasly has rated this article as Extremely Conservative, and 70% Reliable.
Similarly, the article “Biden promises to funnel more money to Chinese communists for climate change” has a strong conservative title, focusing on the opinion of a politician rather than facts. Reliable articles are marked by neutral language and points from credible sources. Based on the title alone, it could be safely assumed that this article would be very biased and less fact-based. The language used throughout this article expresses dislike for President Biden’s actions. One example comes from when the writer, Faria, expresses the wrongs with the UN saying it is “rotten to its very core”. The author does not provide any reasoning behind this. Faria also portrays Biden and the Democratic party very negatively while writing, “thanks to his commitment to the Democratic Party’s climate cult” when referring to the president’s work in fighting the climate crisis. Biasly has rated this article as Moderately Conservative, and only 45% reliable.
These articles, in addition to those above, are only a small representation of all of the Washington Examiners’ content, but they indicate that the news source can be characterized by a great deal of opinions, but can also be neutral. The articles shown today have shown biases in articles such as opinion pieces, but have also been more fact-based in new articles.
Who Owns the Washington Examiner?
This media website primarily focuses on national news from a conservative perspective. The Washington Examiner is owned by MediaDC, a subsidiary of Clarity Media Group, which Philip Anschutz owns. Anschutz is a well-known supporter of conservative advocacy groups and Republican politicians. He formed the Clarity Media Group which collected local and national newspapers, as well as other media outlets.
In 2017, Anschutz acquired the Coachella Valley music festival, which resulted in severe negative backlash from the festival’s regular attendees. They were worried as he had previously funded anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion, anti-gun control, anti-marijuana, and climate-change denial efforts. According to Politico, “When it came to the editorial page, Anschutz’s instructions were explicit—he ‘wanted nothing but conservative columns and conservative op-ed writers,’ said one former employee.”
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 their beliefs. 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 gave the Washington Examiner a Moderately Conservative bias score, remember that bias varies by article, and the Washington Examiner does not exclusively publish conservative opinion pieces. This source has posted left-leaning and central articles in the past, such as their outward disagreement with Trump running for a 2nd term. Additionally, some article types will inherently have more or less bias; general news articles are known for being less biased than opinion pieces. And 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.