The National Interest is a bimonthly international relations magazine owned by the Center for the National Interest, a think tank formerly known as the Nixon Center for Peace and Freedom. The magazine is generally regarded as slightly conservative, largely due to its support for the realist school of thought. Realism, contrasting with liberalism, “emphasizes the competitive and conflictual side of international relations,” and the magazine attempts to distance itself from “liberal hawks and neoconservatives.” So, how reliable is the National Interest?

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How Factual Is the National Interest? 

The Factual’s news-rating algorithm analyzes more than 10,000 articles a day along four metrics: author expertise, publication history, writing tone, and cited sources and quotes. (See our How It Works page to learn more.) For this study, we analyzed 1,000 articles each from 245 major news sources.

Over a dataset of 1,000 articles, the National Interest scored an average Factual Grade of 68.8%. This is well above the 61.9% average for all 245 news sources that we analyzed and places the magazine in the 79th percentile of our dataset. 

The magazine’s high average is due to a number of factors. Articles tend to incorporate numerous, high-quality sources, the magazine’s authors exhibit high levels of topical expertise, and articles are generally written in a highly neutral tone.

Like any news source, scores for articles from the National Interest varied widely based on factors like author expertise and cited evidence. For example, some scored above 80%, while others scored below 50%.

How Opinionated Is the National Interest?

The Factual measures how opinionated an article is using a sophisticated natural language processing algorithm, producing a score we call the Writing Tone. For this metric, the algorithm looks for signs of subjective commentary (e.g., first person pronouns, unnecessary adverbs), as well as the emotional nature of selected words, and sees how prevalent they are for a given length of text. Text which is less opinionated gets higher ratings, with “0” being the most opinionated and “1” being the most neutral.

The National Interest had an average Writing Tone score of 0.63, placing it in the 54th percentile in our dataset. This suggests that articles from the magazine tend to have a moderately opinionated writing tone. 

What Is the National Interest’s Political Bias? 

The Factual classifies news sites by political bias as either Left, Moderate Left, Center, Moderate Right, or Right. This classification comes from third-party assessments from media bias organizations such as AllSides and Media Bias/Fact Check (MBFC). Based on this data, The Factual assigns the National Interest a Moderate Right bias.

MBFC assigns the National Interest a “Right-Center” due to the magazine’s “story selection and political affiliation that leans right.” The magazine receives credit for highly researched articles and ample sourcing, as well as a clean fact-check record. As MBFC puts it, the site is only classified as having a rightward leaning because it tends to “reject liberal ideology regarding foreign affairs.” 

AllSides classifies the magazine as “Center,” based on independent research and 690 community reviews. However, AllSides offers no explanation for this rating and does not appear to have conducted an in-depth review of the magazine to date.

Furthermore, the National Interest indicates its desire to support a “fresh debate” about American foreign policy, by “featuring a variety of leading authors from government, journalism, and academia, many of whom may at times disagree with each other.”

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Who Owns the National Interest?

The National Interest is owned by the Center for the National Interest. Originally known as the Nixon Center for Peace and Freedom, this public policy think tank was established by former President Nixon in 1994 to “serve as a voice for strategic realism in U.S. foreign policy.” It has since been renamed, in part due to Nixon’s problematic legacy. The center describes itself as non-profit and non-partisan and boasts a bipartisan board of directors. Notably, however, the think tank hosted former President Trump’s first major foreign policy address and was entangled in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The center was cleared of any wrongdoing, but critics have argued that the center and the National Interest are “two of the most Kremlin-sympathetic institutions in the nation’s capital.”

Why Does It Matter?

News articles always have some bias because all authors have some frame of reference within which they describe a story. Political bias ratings are helpful in understanding this framing. However, it can be more beneficial to know how factual an article is based on quantifiable metrics that can be seen across the media ecosystem, such as cited evidence, author expertise, and writing tone. This is what The Factual ascertains. 

Reading several, highly rated articles from across the political spectrum helps counter the bias of any news source or story. To have the day’s most factual news stories delivered to your inbox every morning, subscribe to our daily newsletter.

Published by Phillip Meylan

Phillip is a writer, researcher, and editor. At The Factual, he leads research efforts that utilize the company's ever growing data on the media ecosystem. He is also a contributor to FP Analytics, Foreign Policy's research and advisory division, and an adjunct fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.