Originally conceived of as a conservative alternative to the Washington Post, the Washington Times has a checkered past. The paper’s founder was the head of the Church of Unification, what many deem to be a religious cult, but the paper found a sustained audience in Washington, including former president Ronald Reagan, who claimed to have read the paper daily while in office. Today, the paper is recognized for solid reporting on daily news stories but has repeatedly been caught spreading false claims and conspiracy theories. So how reliable of a news source is the Washington Times?

How Factual Is the Washington Times?

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, the Washington Times scored an average Factual Grade of 59.7%. This is below the 61.9% average for all 245 news sources that we analyzed. This places the site in the 30th percentile of our dataset. 

Poor sourcing of information and limited inclusion of external evidence drive these low scores for Washington Times news articles. For example, stories either incorporate no external links, contain very few links, or only link to other Washington Times content. This means articles may fail to incorporate external evidence or outside reporting on a topic. That said, the site does deliver many day-to-day news with low bias and largely factual reporting.

Like any news source, scores from the Washington Times varied widely based on factors like author expertise and cited evidence. For example, some scored above 80%, while others scored below 50%

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How Opinionated Is the Washington Times?

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.

The Washington Times had an average Writing Tone score of 0.77, placing it in the 92nd percentile in our dataset. This suggests many articles from the site use highly neutral wording, though this does not account for headlines. 

What Is the Political Bias of the Washington Times?

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 the Washington Times a Moderate Right bias. 

AllSides classifies the Washington Times as “Lean Right” based on an independent survey, a blind-bias survey, and 42,264 community ratings. They find this classification to be relatively uncontroversial since the site specifically targets center-right conservatives and defines itself as a conservative news outlet. A “vast majority” of the AllSides community ratings also agree with this assessment.

MBFC positions the Washington Times as “Right-Center” but also as a “Questionable” source. According to MBFC, the site has an “extreme right editorial bias” but reports straight news with less bias. The “Questionable” rating is due to the site’s tendency for “poor sourcing, holding editorial positions contrary to scientific consensus,” and numerous failed fact checks. Such factual errors include stories such as “Facial recognition firm claims antifa infiltrated Trump protesters who stormed Capitol,” which has since been corrected. They also publish climate change conspiracy theories, including that “global warming and then the climate change narrative was cooked up by America’s adversaries to enable our enemies to eventually dominate us.”

Who Owns the Washington Times?

Sun Myung Moon, a Korean religious leader and businessman, founded the Washington Times in 1982. He also founded and led the Unification movement — a religious movement of which Moon and his wife were central, messianic figures. Today, the Washington Times belongs to Operations Holdings, which remains associated with the Unification movement. Moon pictured the paper as a conservative alternative to the Washington Post. Over time, it has been accused of having a pro-Christian bias and of being the mouthpiece of the Unification Church. 

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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.