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Is Townhall Biased?

By · Mar 26, 2024 · 9 min read

Is Townhall Biased?

Townhall was one of the pioneers of conservative media at the turn of the century. Since its inception in 1995, Townhall has become one of the most prominent conservative media sources and is renowned today as the leading conservative website. In recent months, its website has attracted nearly 10 million visits a month according to Similarweb. Hundreds of columnists have written pieces for Townhall, from high-profile conservative media personalities to Republican officeholders.

As a top conservative news and opinion website, magazine, and radio news service, the question of whether Townhall is biased demands a close examination. Its audience, which is approximately two-thirds male with two-thirds of their overall audience 55 years or older, and background strongly suggests that its content leans conservative. However, to what extent is that true?

In this article, we will analyze the website’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 Townhall 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 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 Townhall Politically Biased?

Biasly’s rating for Townhall is based on two scores, one from its computer algorithms which are based on A.I., and one from its analysts. Biasly rated Townhall with a Computer bias score of Very Conservative and an Analyst bias score of Moderately Conservative, which means, overall, it provides political coverage from an American conservative political perspective. Analyst scores are based on an average of at least 15 articles with each being reviewed by one liberal, moderate, and conservative analyst. The more articles rated by Bialsy’s analyst team for a particular source indicates a more accurate analyst score. As Biasly rates more articles, the scores will become more accurate. Townhall contributors’ consistent praise of Republican policies and politicians and constant negative portrayal of Democratic ones contributed to these ratings. Biasly’s ratings closely align with other third-party sources that rate media bias.

Townhall does not shy away from its conservative identity. On its “About Us” section, they state:

“ is designed to amplify those conservative voices in America’s political debates.”

“By uniting the nation’s top conservative radio hosts with their millions of listeners, breaks down the barriers between news and opinion, journalism and political participation — and enables conservatives to participate in the political process with unprecedented ease.”

Townhall openly advocates for conservative perspectives in media, even if they’re not always rooted in reality, to galvanize their audience to participate in the political process.

Readers like you are more likely to have a strong opinion of Townhall based on your political leaning 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.

Analysis of Bias in Townhall Online Articles

When determining bias, some of the most common metrics used include Tone, Tendency, Author, Diction, and Expediency Bias, 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. 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.

Moreover, tendency measures the consistency of an author’s tone or bias. A ‘Neutral/Moderate’ tendency indicates a balanced approach with no consistent bias. ‘Somewhat Liberal/Conservative’ shows slight, occasional bias, though the author generally tries to remain neutral. A ‘Very Liberal/Conservative’ tendency means the author often, but not always, leans towards a particular viewpoint. In an ‘Extremely Liberal/Conservative’ scenario, the bias is very evident throughout the article, favoring one side.

Finally, expediency bias relates to the initial impression from an article’s headline, images, or summary. ‘Neutral/Moderate’ expediency bias presents information fairly without delay or misleading elements. ‘Somewhat Liberal/Conservative’ indicates a slight favoritism in headlines and images. ‘Very Liberal/Conservative’ expediency bias shows apparent favoritism for one viewpoint in the headline and pictures. Lastly, ‘Extremely Liberal/Conservative’ expediency bias is when headlines and images blatantly favor one side, often resembling clickbait.

Townhall VIP

Source: Townhall

The first Townhall article we’ll examine is titled, “And Now the Left Targets Marijuana as an Enemy of Climate Change,” which has glaring levels of conservative bias. From the title and image alone, there is a very conservative expediency bias. Given that Townhall’s primary audience is conservatives, choice words such as “the Left,” are designed to elicit a strong reaction. The same can be said about words like “Marijuana” and “Climate Change,” which conservatives are less likely than other political groups to support the deregulation of cannabis, and environmental regulations, and believe climate change is real. The image shows an unnamed person smoking marijuana, which is also designed to provoke a negative reaction from the reader.

Approximately half the article is quotes from a Politico article regarding the environmental costs of the expansion of cannabis in the United States. However, the author Matt Vespa did not shy away from his bias in the lines he wrote. His tone from the beginning was very critical of climate scientists’ warnings about the dangers of climate change spiraling out of control.

“Climate change is back in the news probably because a new report declared that this is a make-or-break decade to curb global warming. This is what—the seventh time we were told this was a critical decade for climate change.”

Vespa was also similarly harsh towards climate activists in the second paragraph, dismissing their concerns and portraying their attempts to regulate industries contributing to climate as clownish. The framing creates an “us vs. them” mentality in the hopes the audience will take political action against them.

“As the environmental Left goes haywire over carbon emissions, everything has been slated for demolition. Beef became a target, but not a new enemy has emerged for these green warriors: pot smokers. Yes, the marijuana business is now problematic to saving Mother Earth.”

The author’s tendency was consistently negative throughout the article towards the aforementioned groups. Vespa concludes with a call to action on mobilizing against “the Left.”

“There’s no taking the neutral position, these people will find some way to make you miserable. It loves company and the fact that the Left is haranguing about marijuana now just shows that the war isn’t meant to be won. It’s meant to be endless.”

“Editor’s Note: Support Townhall so we can keep telling the truth about the radical climate alarmists’ agenda.”

The diction throughout the article is strong and negatively charged at times. It casts climate scientists as people who should not be taken at their word. Vespa mocks climate scientists for making inaccurate predictions about climate change, even though he never cited any statements with any sources or references. This weakens the author’s claim even if it’s true.

“In 2007, these experts said that the Arctic Ice Cap would be gone by 2013. It ended up growing by over 533,000 square miles. And then, they said in the 1970s that global cooling was an existential issue as we undergo periods of glaciation. They were wrong again.”

However, Matt Vespa provided a hyperlink for the Politico article. Therefore, he was selective in what facts he wanted the audience to take at his word and what they should read themselves.

“Yes, the marijuana business is now problematic to saving Mother Earth (via Politico):”

In summary, the author makes his biases known to the readers from the get-go and presents a news story from a very conservative perspective. The tone and diction are outwardly harsh and negative towards groups he perceives as political enemies. The goal is to mobilize the audience to join the political process to stop these supposed enemies. The article’s very conservative slant aligns with Biasly’s analysis of Townhall as a news source with a tendency to lean conservative in its biases.

Analysis of Townhall Opinion Articles

Before we answer this question, we need to draw the distinction between opinion and reporting. While reporting is intended to be neutral, giving the reader the facts and quotes from primary sources to let them form their own opinion, opinions are an outlet for columnists to express their personal views on the issues of the day.

Townhall has always been openly conservative and does not shy away from its biases. While Townhall does have articles with the disclaimer, “The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of,” virtually every article has notable bias. Therefore, deciphering between objective articles and editorials on Townhall is tougher compared to other sources. While there are examples of factual reporting in Townhall articles, like in the analysis above, they prioritize a conservative agenda first.


Source: Townhall

Consider the Townhall opinion article, “You Should Rethink Flying United Airlines,” by conservative radio talk show host and writer Dennis Prager. The title alone makes it clear that the author is giving their opinion on a topic. While the expediency bias from the title and image does not favor one side, the author’s tone and diction quickly turns negative against United Airlines. He describes them as a “woke” company and harshly criticizes their efforts to recruit and train more women and people of color. He believes that these efforts will compromise their safety, presumably because they won’t be hiring the most qualified people for the job. Nothing in the article suggests the author was trying to provide and fair and impartial analysis of United Airlines’ new policy.

If you want an example of an article that’s more objective, consider the article, “Utah Governor Gets a Very Unique Letter from Constituent Making Demand About His Last Name” by Leah Barkoukis. The author makes no attempt to spin the story of Utah Governor Spencer Cox receiving an unusual letter. Any language that is biased comes directly from the source the author cited, which came from the letter the governor received. This type of reporting partially explains why Biasly rated Townhall as moderately conservative instead of very conservative. However, articles like this one are the exception to Townhall’s content, not the norm.

These articles, in addition to those above, are only a small representation of all of Townhall’s content, but they indicate that the outlet is often characterized by a great deal of opinion, which further underscores the importance of knowing how to distinguish subjective writing from genuine reporting.

Who Owns Townhall?

Townhall was originally founded by the American conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, in 1995. The two parted ways in 2005 and Townhall went independent for a year until Salem Media Group (formerly Salem Communications Corporation) purchased them. Salem is a public company and its primary target audience is Christian conservatives. They are headquartered in Irving, Texas. They also own other conservative websites such as RedState and Hot Air. Salem’s founder and longtime chairman, Stuart Epperson (1936-2023), was an evangelical and ran for Congress twice as a Republican in North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District in 1984 and 1986, losing both times.

business wire

Source: Business Wire

How to Elevate 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 Townhall as Moderately Conservative, remember that bias varies from article to article. With Townhall, some articles are significantly more biased in favor of the conservative cause than others. Other articles fall into the center of the political spectrum. 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.


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