As one of the biggest names in news, NBC News boasts an extensive network of journalists and significant resources, including foreign bureaus around the world. But with this significant presence in the news ecosystem comes accusations of being a part of “mainstream” media, including accusations of having a liberal bias. So, how reliable and biased are news articles from NBC News?

Note: This analysis is specific to online articles from NBC News, not any of its television or other media content.

How Factual Is NBC 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, NBC News scored an average Factual Grade of 68.1%. This is above the average of 61.9% for all 245 news sources that we analyzed, placing NBC News in the 76th percentile of our dataset. This is below other similar “mainstream” news organizations such as ABC News (72.8%) and CNBC (71.5%) but above CBS News (62.7%).

These scores can be attributed to the organization’s extensive team of dedicated journalists, largely neutral reporting, and use of evidence in news stories through external links and direct quotes. However, these practices are not consistent across all articles on the site.  For example, a large number of articles only feature minimal links to external sources, and some articles do not contain any external links at all. This may be a stylistic choice from the newsroom, but it makes it harder for readers to corroborate a story based on external articles from other sources.

Like any news source, scores for articles from NBC News varied widely based on factors like author expertise and cited evidence. For example, some scored above 90%, while others scored below 50%.

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How Opinionated Is NBC 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.

NBC News had an average Writing Tone score of 0.73, placing it in the 83rd percentile in our dataset. This suggests that articles from the site are largely written in a neutral tone and avoid emotional or opinionated wording.

What Is the Political Bias of NBC News?

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. Based on this data, The Factual assigns NBC News a Moderate Left bias. 

AllSides classifies NBC News as having a “Lean Left” bias based on independent research, third-party analysis, and 25,310 community ratings. They attribute this rating to reporting that “often omits right-leaning perspectives and generally has a leftward bent,” especially on topics important to the left. As of July 2016, a slight majority of community ratings disagreed with AllSides assessment, but the average of these community ratings still came out as “Lean Left.” Finally, AllSides also cites a 2014 Pew Research study that found that the composition of NBC’s audience “largely mirrors that of the broader public, though conservatives are somewhat underrepresented … relative to their share of all respondents.”

Media Bias/Fact Check (MBFC) classified NBC News as having a “Left-Center” bias due to the site’s tendency to have “story selection and word choices that moderately favor the left.” They also give the site credit for proper sourcing of information and a “reasonable” fact-check record, noting only one failed fact-check. MBFC documents that the site at times exhibits bias through headlines like “Trump threatens border security shutdown, GOP cool to idea.”

Who Owns NBC News? 

NBC News is owned by Comcast, a multinational telecommunications conglomerate that owns numerous other news organizations, such as MSNBC and CNBC. There is limited evidence to suggest that the corporate ownership of NBC has a strong direct influence on the political bias expressed in its news articles. However, political contributions from affiliates of Comcast trend toward Democratic candidates, as documented by site’s such as OpenSecrets.org. Most recently, Comcast joined other major companies in signaling its intention not to contribute any money to the campaigns of the 147 Republicans who refused to certify the election of President Biden in 2020. In 2021, the Washington Post highlighted that despite Comcast’s opposition to voting restrictions being imposed in the state of Georgia, the company still contributed money to politicians in Georgia who supported the law.

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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.