Fox News is a flagship news source for conservatives. However, it receives criticism from many for having a strong conservative bias and, at times, problematic news coverage. This leads us to ask two important questions. How reliable is Fox News and how biased is it? 

Note: This article is specifically about Fox News’ online website, not any of its television programming, unless noted otherwise.

How Factual Is Fox 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.

Over a dataset of 1,000 articles, Fox News scored an average Factual Grade of 53.6%. This is well below the average of 61.9% for all 240 news sources that we analyzed and places the site in the 16th percentile of our dataset. In part, these low scores are due to a failure to link to external sources and a tendency to engage in more opinionated writing.

Like any news source, scores for articles from Fox News varied widely based on factors like writing tone and cited evidence. For example, some scored above 70%, while others scored below 50%.

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The Factual also measures how opinionated an article is using a 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.

Fox News had an average Writing Tone score of 0.70, placing it in the 75th percentile in our dataset. This suggests that articles from Fox News are often written in a neutral tone. The average Writing Tone score for the entire dataset was 0.56.

How Biased Is Fox News?

Together, assessments from media bias organizations indicate that Fox News—specifically its online news site—has a “Right” bias. 

AllSides assigns Fox News a “Right” bias, based on survey data, editorial review, and over 89,205 ratings from the community. However, Fox News recently shifted from “Lean Right” to “Right” as of May 2021. It was also categorized as “Right” before December 2017. This “Right” classification is based on an editorial review following a perceived uptick in bias after President Biden's election. The bipartisan reviewing team noted “sensationalist headlines” and “right-wing” story choice, though they also credited “neutral” coverage of January 6. 

Meanwhile, Media Bias/Fact Check gives Fox News a strong “Right” bias rating, suggesting they are “moderate to strongly biased toward conservative causes through story selection and/or political affiliation” and “utilize strong loaded words, publish misleading reports, and omit reporting of information that may damage conservative causes.” They also assign a “Mixed” score for factual reporting due to “poor sourcing” and the sharing of conspiracy theories

Elsewhere, a study from Pew Research notes that Fox falls well to the right on the political spectrum based on the perception of U.S. adults, but also that it is not as right leaning as other sources, such as the Daily Caller and Breitbart. 

Through its online and television coverage, Fox News has also faced recent criticism on a number of fronts related to its bias, including downplaying the severity of the Covid-19 crisis, furthering false claims of election fraud, falsely claiming that the Biden administration was continuing to build the border wall against campaign promises, and falsely claiming that Biden’s climate plans would force U.S. consumers to eat less meat.

Who Owns Fox News?

Fox News is owned by the Fox Corporation, which in turn is controlled by the Murdoch family. Businessman and media tycoon Rupert Murdoch serves as chairman, and his son, Lachlan, serves as CEO and executive chairman. The Murdoch family, through various entities, also owns the Wall Street Journal and New York Post, UK-based tabloids The Sun and The Times, and several Australian newspapers. Many of these entities have a conservative bias, and Murdoch family wields considerable influence over their operations.

Like other major media networks, Fox News generates substantial resources from ad revenues. In 2020, Variety reported that Fox News anticipated earning $1.32 billion in ad revenue. By comparison, CNN earned $773.1 million and MSNBC earned $723.1 million.

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How to Mitigate Bias

News articles tend to have 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.

This article was updated on December 12, 2021 to reflect new data.

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.