While the conservative political blog RedState lacks an “About” page to clarify its exact political standing and approach to journalism, a brief skim of the site’s content can leave little doubt about the site’s heavy conservative bias. In 2018, the site let go of many long-time bloggers, reportedly due to disagreements about reporting critically on then-President Trump, a move seen to be driven by the site’s owner, the Salem Media Group. In recent years, the site has been a hot-spot for election conspiracy stories and stories denying the existence of the Capitol Riot. Leveraging a dataset of 1,000 articles from RedState, The Factual seeks to investigate the reliability and bias of its content.

How Does The Factual Rate News Sources? 

The Factual analyzes more than 10,000 news stories every day to help readers find the most informative, least-biased articles. Our news-rating algorithm scores each article along four metrics: (1) cited sources and quotes, (2) publication history, (3) writing tone, and (4) author expertise. These scores combine in a weighted average we call a Factual Grade, which ranges from 0–100%. (See our How It Works page to learn more about our algorithm.)

For this study, we analyzed ~1,000 articles each from 240 news sources. The average Factual Grade for the entire dataset was 62.5%. Based on these averages, we can compare the performance of news sites across the media ecosystem. The entire dataset can be explored in greater detail here.

How Factual Is RedState? 

RedState scored an average Factual Grade of 44.0%, placing it in the 3rd percentile of our dataset. In fact, it was among the ten lowest-scoring publications that we analyzed.

RedState’s particularly low scores are driven by poor performance across all metrics rated by The Factual. Articles on RedState exhibit poor journalistic practices, such as including minimal sourcing of information. Links to external articles appear rarely or only link back to other RedState content. Authors for the site score poorly for topical expertise, meaning they rarely cover the same topic or have a history of publishing poorly rated articles. Some articles lack an identifiable author or are published under a pseudonym. Finally, the site is heavily laden with biased language and headlines. 

Like any news source, scores for articles from RedState vary based on these factors. For example, some scored above 60%, while many others scored below 30%.

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How Opinionated Is RedState?

One of the metrics The Factual uses is the Writing Tone, which measures how opinionated the writing is in an article. For this metric, the algorithm looks for signs of subjective commentary (e.g., first person pronouns and unnecessary adverbs), as well as the emotional nature of selected words, and sees how prevalent they are for a given length of text. More neutral text receives higher ratings, with “0” being the most opinionated and “1” being the most neutral.

RedState had an average Writing Tone score of 0.17, placing it in the 1st percentile in our dataset for this metric. This puts the site among the 5 most opinionated news sites that we measured. This extreme level of bias is captured in titles such as “Dire Polling for Democrats Shows Voters Fleeing Them in Droves” and “Hair Gel Newsom Goes on an Unhinged Rant and We Are Here for It.”

How Biased Is RedState?

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 RedState a Right bias. 

AllSides rates RedState as “Right” based on an independent review and 1,303 community ratings. AllSides points to the site’s self-proclaimed conservative bias evident in pop-ups and content. As an example, RedState describes itself as a “Conservative Blog & Conservative News Source for Right of Center Activists” in Google search results and greets readers with a pop-up with the call to action “Join the Fight Against the Left.” AllSides asserts that the site qualifies as a blog, not a hard news site, and many articles tend to incorporate sensationalist titles.

MBFC reaches a similar conclusion, rating RedState as “Right” (specifically a “borderline extreme right-wing bias”) due to “story selection that always favors the right and use of emotionally loaded (sensationalized) headlines.” They go further to label the site as a borderline “questionable” site with a “mixed” rating for factual reporting due to poor sourcing and numerous failed fact-checks. The full effect of this can be seen in stories that support false claims put forward by former President Trump regarding the 2020 presidential election: “The Complete Illogic of a Biden Victory.”

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Who Owns RedState?

RedState is one of several highly conservative media brands owned by Salem Media Group under the Townhall Media umbrella, alongside other sites such as Townhall and Hot Air. Salem Media Group admits its conservative bias, saying it serves “the nation’s Christian and conservative communities.” Three senior contributors split from RedState in 2019, citing the unwillingness of the site and Salem Media Group to publish content critical of then-President Trump; the authors insisted that such an approach was at odds with the professed family-focused mission of the Salem Media Group. 

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.

This article was updated on September 22, 2022 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.