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 analyzed 785,000 news articles from 32 major news sources between January 1, 2020 and May 18, 2021. To be included for consideration, the news source must have published at least 5,000 articles over the time period, or at least 10 articles per day.

Fox News scored an average Factual Grade of 55.3% across 64,122 articles. This is well below the 62.0% average for all articles in the dataset, placing Fox in the 25th percentile. For comparison, it outscores CNN (53.6%) according to our ratings, but both score below average overall. In part, this is because both sites often fail to link to external sources and engage in more opinionated writing.

Article scores for each news source, as rated by The Factual’s credibility algorithm, vary significantly, demonstrating how measurements of author expertise, writing tone, and provided evidence change markedly for each article. For instance, some articles from Fox News scored 80% or above, while others scored below 50%. 

A high grade means an article is informative, relatively objective, and written by a topical expert. A low grade means many of these elements were not present or could not be verified. The article may still have merit but readers should know to treat the article with greater scrutiny. To learn more, visit our How It Works page.

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, compared to $773.1 million for CNN and $723.1 million for MSNBC.

How to Mitigate Bias

Of course, having an overall conservative bias does not disqualify Fox News from producing factual news. Fox News still publishes many fact-based articles — most articles are “rather balanced or just stating the facts,” according to AllSides. That said, most news articles have some bias because all authors have some frame of reference within which they describe a story. Political bias ratings are useful in understanding this framing. However, it can be more useful to know how factual an article is based on the cited evidence and whether the tone of writing is objective or opinionated. This is what The Factual Grade ascertains. Reading several highly rated articles across the political spectrum, from highly credible liberal and conservative sources, helps counter the bias of any news source or story.

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Published by Phillip Meylan

Phillip is a writer, researcher, and editor. He is a contributor to FP Analytics, Foreign Policy's research and advisory division, and an adjuct fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. During Covid-19, he has spent time enjoying the great outdoors, reading, and watching soccer.