The Washington Post enjoys a reputation for being one of the nation’s most prominent newspapers. However, its reporting at times receives criticism for left-leaning bias and complications related to its ownership by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. This makes it worth asking two important questions: how reliable is the Washington Post and how biased is its coverage?
How Factual Is the Washington Post?
The Factual analyzed 785,000 news articles from 32 major news sources between January 1, 2020 and May 18, 2021. To be included, a news source must have published at least 5,000 articles over the time period, or at least 10 articles per day.
The Washington Post scored an average Factual Grade of 66.1% across 50,928 articles. This is above the 62.0% average for all articles in the dataset, placing it in the 56th percentile.
Article scores, as rated by The Factual’s algorithm, show how author expertise, writing tone, and provided evidence can vary for each article. For instance, some articles from the Washington Post scored 90% or more, 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 factors were not present or could not be verified. Articles with lower scores may still have merit, but readers should know to treat them with greater scrutiny. To learn more, visit our How It Works page.
How Biased Is the Washington Post?
Together, assessments from media bias organizations indicate that the Washington Post has a “Moderate Left” bias.
AllSides gives the Washington Post a “Lean Left” bias, based on survey data, editorial review, and over 60,141 community ratings. The most recent analysis from AllSides come from a survey of 1,414 people across the political spectrum placed the newspaper on the border between “Lean Left” and “Center.” This survey revealed that surprising portions of left-leaning readers saw the newspaper as slightly conservative, while a majority of right-leaning readers saw it as slightly liberal.
Media Bias/Fact Check reaches a similar conclusion, classifying the Washington Post as “Left-Center.” They note the publication “often publishes factual information that utilizes loaded words to favor liberal causes.” They also give it credit for “Mostly Factual” reporting and use of credible sources, though they note two failed fact checks, one related to Russian hacking and another related to accusations of fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Other aspects of the newspaper’s operation make an overall left-leaning bias apparent. For example, it has endorsed Democratic presidential candidates in every election since 1976. Likewise, article titles, particularly in the opinion section, reveal some bias: “The Trump administration created this awful border policy. It doesn’t need Congress to fix it.” and “Biden is making the Trump presidency seem like a golden age of unity.”
Who Owns the Washington Post?
Amazon founder and executive chairman Jeff Bezos famously owns the Washington Post. Executive Editor Martin Baron has insisted that Bezos has not tried to influence the output of the paper: “He’s never suggested a story to anybody here, he’s never critiqued a story, he’s never suppressed a story.” The paper argues this is still the case in 2021.
There are instances of articles that clearly favor Bezos and Amazon, such as “Think twice before changing the tax rules to soak billionaires.” However, they also published articles that are highly critical of Amazon, such as “Amazon Key is Silicon Valley at its most out-of-touch.”
How to Mitigate Bias
The Washington Post is known for quality journalism, though most assessments assign it a left-leaning bias. That said, all news articles have some bias because all authors have some frame of reference within which they describe a story. 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 helps measure. Reading several highly rated articles across the political spectrum, including from highly objective sources, helps counter the bias of any news source or story.
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