CBS News is best known for its news broadcasting and high-quality reporting in online digital media. It has gained immense popularity across the United States as the news branch of CBS television and radio network. CBS Corporation combines over 90 years in the media, but its classification as “mainstream” means the site still receives criticism. So, how factual and biased in CBS News?

Note: The Factual’s analysis is specific to online news stories, not TV or other media coverage.

How Factual Is CBS News?

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.

Across a dataset analyzing 1,000 articles, CBS News scored an average Factual Grade of 62.7%. This is slightly above the average of 62% for all 240 news sources that we analyzed. Overall, this puts CBS News in the 42nd percentile of our dataset.

A range of CBS’s practices both raise and lower scores. For example, the site’s tendency to use a neutral writing tone leads to higher scores. However, many articles lack cited evidence or cite only other CBS articles, leading to lower scores.

Like any news source, scores for articles from CBS News varied widely. For example, some scored above 90%, while others scored below 50%.

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How Opinionated Is CBS News?

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.

CBS News had an average score of 0.75, placing it in the 89th percentile in our dataset. This suggests that articles from CBS News have a high tendency to be neutral in tone and avoid using emotionally loaded language and headlines. 

What Is CBS News’ Political Bias?  

The Factual classifies media organizations 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. Based on this data, The Factual assigns CBS News a Moderate Left bias. 

AllSides rates CBS News as having “Lean-Left” media bias based on community feedback, blind bias surveys, and third-party analysis and independent research. In the latest blind bias survey, in April/May 2021, AllSides found that in 1,053 users across the political spectrum, most people agreed that the newspaper had a “Lean Left” bias. Yet, a survey in 2017 found there to be a majority of people that disagreed with the bias rating. Among those who disagreed, users viewed CBS News as presenting a “Center” bias, and the average media bias remains between “Center” and “Lean Left”. AllSides maintains medium confidence in this rating, as more research needs to be done.

Similarly, Media Bias/Fact Checker (MBFC) rates CBS News as “Left-Center” based on story selections that moderately favor the left or are more critical of the right. However, CBS News receives a high factual reporting rating due to covering stories from both sides of the political spectrum and using proper sourcing. Likewise, the site has zero failed fact-checks within the last five years. 

Who Owns CBS News?

The major owners of CBS News are parent companies ViacomCBS and National Amusements. ViacomCBS is now the world's biggest media conglomerate, dominating the entertainment and news sectors alike. There is no clear evidence that this ownership structure has an impact on the news outlet’s media bias. The company was owned for decades by late media mogul Sumner Redstone, a longtime supporter of the Democratic Party, until his passing in 2020, but he also supported Republican presidents at times in his life. Today, his daughter, Shari, chairs ViacomCBS and also serves as president of National Amusements.

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Why Does It Matter?

News articles are bound to have a 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, from cited evidence to author expertise, to the 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 Michelle Lee

Michelle is a growth and marketing professional at The Factual. She has a B.S. degree in psychology and a minor in public health from San Jose State University. Before joining The Factual, she assisted as a psychology researcher, behavioral health coordinator, and digital marketing freelancer.