The Top Propaganda “News” Networks Ranked

The Top Propaganda “News” Networks Ranked

People from all sides of the political spectrum believe fake news is bad for the health of democracy. What even is fake news, and how can we spot it? In this post, we’ll go over the different types of fake news. At the end, we invite you to take our poll to indicate which networks you think are the most untrustworthy.

It’s important to understand that people use the term “fake news” in very different ways. Overall, fake news can be defined as journalism or information that either deliberately or unintentionally misleads people and distorts reality by spreading false information, hoaxes, propaganda, or misrepresentation of facts. Fake news can be used as propaganda, as a marketing tactic, or as a way to drum up revenue by enticing people to engage with content online.

There are multiple different ways fake news can manifest. Check out the four different types of fake news and some examples below.

The Four Types of Fake News

1. Fake news as false information

This could be thought of as the “technical definition” of fake news: completely untrue, false, or made up information. It is often presented in order to persuade, manipulate or influence people.

Examples: During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the false story, “Pope Francis shocks world, endorses Donald Trump for president” was published by a site called WTOE 5 News. The story was engaged with on Facebook nearly a million times. WTOE 5 has since been shut down, but had a disclaimer on its homepage reading, “most articles on wt0e5news.com are satire or pure fantasy.” Some might say this didn’t start out as fake news because it was obviously written to be satire, but it became fake news when it was spread as actual news.

On June 22, 2017, CNN reported that Trump aide Anthony Scaramucci was involved with the Russian Direct Investment Fund, under Senate investigation. He was not, and CNN retracted the story. Three reporters who published it resignedThe Intercept (Left media bias) identified multiple other instances where CNN published fake news fitting this definition.

2. Fake news as misapplied or misrepresented facts

This form of fake news occurs when true information is misrepresented, misused or misapplied in order to paint a false picture of reality.

Example: In May 2018, some progressive activists, journalists, and former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau criticized the Trump administration’s treatment of unaccompanied children at the U.S. border with Mexico by tweeting a photo showing immigrant children sleeping in an enclosure surrounded by a chain link fence, along with an AZCentral.com article titled, “First glimpse of immigrant children at holding facility.” But the article and photo were from 2014 — during Obama’s presidency. The photo itself was real, but was misapplied in a different context in order to paint a false picture of Trump-era policies, resulting in fake news.

3. Fake news as omission of information

This form of fake news occurs when media provides information/data that is factually true, but either misrepresents the information or ignores other information or data that would counter its narrative.

Examples: In an op-ed, Ken Stern, former president of NPR, wrote that the media often ignores data to support gun rights, focusing only on data that supports stricter gun control. He wrote “legitimate defensive gun use (DGU) … is often dismissed by the media as myth” even though they “happen all the time — 200 times a day, according to the Department of Justice, or 5,000 times a day, according to an overly exuberant Florida State University study.” Stern said the media did not cover an incident of a Houston store clerk who used his gun to wound a would-be robber who was brandishing his own gun. Stern found a video showing the incident on Reddit.

In February 2019, AllSides wrote about how the media reports hate crimes are either rare or common, depending on their bias. Law enforcement reported 7,175 hate crimes to the FBI in 2017, up from 6,121 in 2016. Although the numbers increased over the year, so did the number of law enforcement agencies reporting hate crime data — with 1,000 additional agencies contributing information. Both Left media outlets (CNNVox) and Right media outlets (National ReviewThe Resurgent) omitted the fact that more agencies were reporting in order to either present a view that hate crimes were on the rise (Left outlets) or to present a view that reports of increasing hate crimes were overblown and only a small percentage of Americans experience hate crimes each year (Right outlets).

4. Fake news as poor choices about what should be news

This type of fake news refers to journalism that covers stories that don’t deserve to be news, or journalism that ignores stories that should be big news.

Examples: Media Research Center (Right media bias) said that mainstream media outlets provided six times more coverage for a story about a white supremacist endorsing Trump while downplaying a story about the Taliban-supporting father of a terrorist endorsing Hillary Clinton.

In January 2019, Media Matters for America (Left media bias) said Fox News’ top three prime-time shows and its flagship morning program, Fox & Friends, ignored a report that President Donald Trump “sat down with Vladimir Putin for several minutes of conversation at the end of an evening event at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires in November, with no translator or note-taker from the US side to record the dialogue.” Media Matters said Left-biased sources MSNBC and CNN “both spent significant time discussing the report.”


#1: CNN

Bias Rating: LEFT
Factual Reporting: LOW
Country: USA
Media Type: TV Station
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic

CNN typically utilizes loaded emotional words in sensational headlines such as this: Trump pounces on Justice Department report findings. They usually source their news through reporters/journalists and through hyperlinking to media sources. CNN has failed several fact checks from Politifact. TV hosts have also failed fact checks by IFCN fact-checkers.

Further, CNN has retracted published stories that have been deemed as lacking evidence. Finally, CNN has published misleading information regarding GMOs that utilize loaded fear-based headlines such as this: FDA allows genetically engineered ‘Frankenfish’ salmon to be imported to US. CNN has also used known purveyors of pseudoscience as experts on discussion panels such as the Food Babe.

2014 Pew Research Survey found that 44% of CNN’s audience is consistently or primarily liberal, 40% Mixed, and 20% consistently or mostly conservative resulting in CNN being preferred by a more liberal audience.

#2: Fox News

Bias Rating: RIGHT-CENTER
Factual Reporting: MIXED
Country: USA (44/180 Press Freedom)
Media Type: TV Station
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic

According to a Pew Research Center survey, “Fox News was the main source for 40% of Trump voters” during the 2016 election. Further, another Pew survey indicates, “When it comes to choosing a media source for political news, conservatives orient strongly around Fox News. Nearly half of consistent conservatives (47%) name it as their main source for government and political news.”  

Fox News typically looks at the issues from a conservative perspective. Also, it has several on-air personalities that are strong supporters of Trump, such as Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Dan Bongino; thus, during the Trump Presidency, FNC typically skewed conservative as there was less criticism of Trump.

In review, FNC publishes stories with emotionally loaded headlines such as “’They Wanted It to Blow Up’: Limbaugh Says Success of Trump-Kim Summit Caught Media Off Guard” and “Tucker: 2016 Russia Collusion ‘Witch Hunt’ Now Extends to Jill Stein.” When it comes to sourcing, they typically utilize pro-Trump pundits such as Rush Limbaugh.

#3: MSNBC

Bias Rating: LEFT
Factual Reporting: MIXED
Country: USA (45/180 Press Freedom)
Media Type: TV Station
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic

In review, MSNBC uses strong emotionally loaded headlines such as this “GOP senator says he’s ‘concerned’ Trump was ‘involved in a crime” and “Cohen gets 3 years in jail for covering up Trump’s ‘dirty deeds’”. Generally, story selection favors the Left; however, they are also occasionally criticized by left-leaning organizations. For example, according to Fair.org, MSNBC did not dedicate much airtime to the West Virginia Teachers Strike until the fair.org article was published. Further, Salon published an article criticizing MSNBC for employing the “Republican Never Trump” type of conservatives. According to the article, they are “Loading up on semi-repentant conservatives and ignoring the activist left, MSNBC is doing the nation a disservice.” In other words, MSNBC is so focused on negative coverage of President Trump that they are ignoring the progressive left and actually moving right. However, as a whole, according to Pew Research Center, MSNBC is favored by a liberal audience, which indicates content and story selection tends to lean left to appeal to their core viewers. Further, MSNBC frequently reports negatively on progressive candidates. Lastly, in a 2018 survey conducted by the Knight Foundation/Gallup, they found that the public rates MSNBC the 3rd most biased media source (left) behind Fox News and Breitbart (right).

When reporting news, MSNBC mainly provides video clips from reporters in the field. Text-based news comes directly from the Left-Center NBC News website. When reporting straight news stories, MSNBC is usually well-sourced. They use NBC News as their primary source; however, due to some of the guest political pundits spreading misinformation on their daily programs, we cannot rate MSNBC for factual reporting.

2014 Pew Research Survey found that 48% of MSNBC’s audience is consistently or mostly liberal, 33% Mixed, and 18% consistently or mostly conservative. This indicates that a more liberal audience prefers MSNBC.

#4: Washington Post

Bias Rating: LEFT-CENTER
Factual Reporting: MIXED
Country: USA (45/180 Press Freedom)
Media Type: Newspaper
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic

In review, The Washington Post publishes stories with emotionally loaded headlines such as “Trump escalates China trade war, announces plan for tariffs on $200 billion in products” and in editorials “The Trump administration created this awful border policy. It doesn’t need Congress to fix it.” When it comes to sourcing, they typically utilize left-leaning sources such as Propublica.org, Associated Press, Slate, Princeton.edu, New York Times, wired.com, and CNN. Story selection and editorials almost always favor the left, with the Washington Post only endorsing Democratic Presidential candidates since 1976, including Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020. The Washington Post has also been accused of having an anti-progressive bias, with numerous op-eds negative toward Bernie Sanders.

On 3/16/2021, the Washington Post amended and corrected a story from a December 23, 2020 phone call. On this call, they claimed an anonymous source told them that former President Trump told election investigator Frances Watson “find the fraud” and she would be a “National Hero.” In the original article, the Washington Post used quotes to indicate these are the words of the former President. According to the actual recording received by the Wall Street Journal, those words were never said. In general, the WaPo reports news somewhat factually with a heavy left-leaning editorial bias.

#5: ABC

Bias Rating: LEFT-CENTER
Factual Reporting: MOSTLY FACTUAL
Country: USA
Media Type: TV Station
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic

ABC News is what some call a mainstream media source. They typically publish/report factual news that uses moderately loaded words in headlines such as this: At Montana rally, President Trump praises Greg Gianforte for body-slamming reporter. Story selection tends to favor the left through both wording and bias by omission, where they underreport some news stories that are favorable to the right. ABC usually sources their information to credible sources that are either low biased or high for reporting.

2014 Pew Research Survey found that 37% of ABC News’ audience is consistently or primarily liberal, 41% Mixed, and 21% consistently or mostly conservative. This indicates that a more liberal audience prefers ABC.

#6: New York Times

Bias Rating: FAR LEFT
Factual Reporting: LOW
Country: USA (45/180 Press Freedom)
Media Type: Newspaper
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic

The News York Times’ coverage includes News (World News, National News, Business News), Opinion Pieces, Editorials, Arts, Movies, Theater, Travel, NYC Guide, Food, Home & Garden, and  Fashion & Style.

A Politico article states Donald Trump has frequently criticized The New York Times on his Twitter account. Trump labels the NYT as “fake news,” “naive,” “dumb,” and “the failing New York Times.” However, CNBC reports the company has shown strong growth by adding 157,000 new digital subscriptions in the last quarter of 2017.

The NYT looks at the issues from a progressive perspective and is regarded as “liberal” According to a Pew Research Centers’ media polarization report, “the ideological Placement of Each Source’s Audience” places the audience for the New York Times as “consistently liberal.” Further, since 1960 The New York Times has only endorsed Democratic Presidential Candidates.

In review, the NYT utilizes emotionally loaded language in their headlines such as “Trump Again Falsely Blames Democrats for His Separation Tactic” and “A Financier’s profit-minded Mission to Open a Channel Between Kushner and North Korea,” however, they use sources such as law.cornell.edu, Financial Times, and The Washington Post. Story selection is typically balanced; however, wording tends to lean left in almost all cases.

#7: Huffington Post

Bias Rating: LEFT
Factual Reporting: MIXED
Country: USA (44/180 Press Freedom)
Media Type: Website
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic

Politico reports that during the 2016 presidential elections, every article related to Donald Trump included a note at the bottom indicating Trump as being “racist,” “xenophobe,” “Misogynist”; however, after the election, HuffPost dropped the note.

In review, HuffPost publishes stories with strong emotionally loaded headlines such as “Comey Flips: ‘Vote for Democrats This Fall’” and “Trump Calls Female Reporter ‘So Obnoxious,’ Tells Her To Be Quiet.” They utilize credible sources such as CBS NewsNew York TimesPolitico, and blogs that are unknown to us, such as queensjewelvault.blogspot.com. Furthermore, HuffPost sources the Associated Press when covering world news, such as “Mass Graves Suggest Systematic Killing Of Rohingya In Myanmar.” 

2014 Pew Research Survey found that 59% of HuffPost’s audience is consistently or primarily liberal, 23% Mixed, and 17% consistently or mostly conservative. This indicates that a more liberal audience prefers HuffPost. In general, a review of articles shows that more favor the left than the right. While HuffPost usually relies on credible sources of information, they have failed quite a few fact checks.

#8: The Young Turks (TYT)

Bias Rating: FAR LEFT
Factual Reporting: VERY LOW
Country: USA
Media Type: TV Station
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic

TYT supports the consensus of science every once in a while; however, they tend to promote propaganda that points to the dangers of GMOs and Glyphosate when it comes to GMOs. In this video, Ana Kasparian said: “I think that it’s a little naive to make the assumption that scientists won’t get corrupted by money because scientists obviously have an incentive to support GMOs.” This statement seems logical on the surface, but it is extremely broad and not supported by any evidence. The Young Turks have also interviewed Anti-GMO activist Jill Latiano Howerton and her involvement in educating consumers about GMOs’ dangers. Jill Latiano Howerton was the executive producer of the film GMO OMG, panned for promoting Pseudoscience.

Finally, they have promoted the Seralini GM Maize Feeding study, which has been widely debunked. In general, Young Turks are pro-climate change and vaccines; however with GMO’s, tend to float alternative science, usually to connect Monsanto to wrongdoing. Some of the Young Turks commentaries regarding Monsanto are accurate as they have been caught manipulating data.

#9: National Enquirer

Bias Rating: RIGHT
Factual Reporting: LOW
Country: USA (44/180 Press Freedom)
Media Type: Magazine
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic

The National Enquirer is well known for publishing outrageous and often fake news stories. One could even say that they are the original fake news media outlet that profits by selling fake news. While quite a lot of news on their website is not fake, the majority is sensationalized gossip that is not well sourced to credible information. A sample headline reads Hillary Clinton: White House Dream Is Over! In this article, they claim Clinton has 6 months to live, which is patently false. Here is the cover of the magazine:

According to reporting by The Associated Press, during the 2016 United States Presidential election, stories that supported Donald Trump or attacked his rivals bypassed the newspaper’s standard fact-checking process. In general, stories regarding politics have a right-wing bias in selection, especially regarding President Trump.

#10: CBS

Bias Rating: LEFT-CENTER
Factual Reporting: MIXED
Country: USA (45/180 Press Freedom)
Media Type: TV Station
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic

CBS News is considered a mainstream USA media source that reports news with a left-leaning bias in story selection. In other words, they are more likely to report on a story that is favorable to the left or more critical of the right. However, CBS News seems to source their information properly and sometimes attempts to covers both sides of stories. The wording of headlines utilizes minimal loaded words such as this: Trump denies advance knowledge of son’s meeting with Russian lawyer.

2014 Pew Research Survey found that 40% of CBS News’ audience is consistently or mostly liberal, 39% Mixed, and 20% consistently or mostly conservative. This indicates that a more liberal audience prefers CBS News.

#11: Vox

Bias Rating: FAR LEFT
Factual Reporting: VERY LOW
Country: USA (44/180 Press Freedom)
Media Type: Website
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic

According to a Politico interview with the editor, Ezra Klein, Klein describes their goal as “to use technology to improve readers’ experience and understanding of events.” Vox has introduced Vox Card Stacks, and with those cards, they organize information, in index card format, about all kinds of topics in the news with in-depth details but in a summary form. Some examples are: “Everything you need to know about Israel-Palestine” and “The spread of marijuana legalization, explained.”  Vox also has a feature called StoryStream, where they provide real-time updates to news stories.

In review, Vox looks at the issues from an extreme progressive-liberal perspective, and there is also a strong anti-Trump tone in their reporting. Therefore, the majority of stories are pro-left and anti-right. Further, Vox publishes stories with emotionally loaded headlines such as “Are Democrats brave enough to run a woman against Donald Trump?” and “The most depressing energy chart of the year- Coal has got to go” When it comes to sourcing, Vox typically utilizes left leaning sources such as the NY Times, Associated Press, and Bloomberg.

#12: Los Angeles Times

Bias Rating: LEFT
Factual Reporting: LOW
Country: USA (45/180 Press Freedom)
Media Type: Newspaper
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic

In review, the LA Times (Los Angeles Times) uses moderately emotionally loaded headlines such as this “Outgoing White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly defends his rocky tenure” and “Engaging with the world doesn’t make Americans ‘suckers’”  The wording within articles also tends to lean left as evidenced by this quote from an editorial “Congress needs to focus not only on how amateurishly Trump executes foreign policy but the clear shortcomings of the policy itself.” When it comes to sourcing the LA Times rarely uses hyperlinked sourcing, which is acceptable as news stories are covered and written by their journalists. When using hyperlinked sources they utilize left leaning ones such as the Financial Times.

Editorially, the LA Times has endorsed Democratic Presidential Candidates in the last three elections and during the 2016 General Election the LA Times stated that “Hillary Clinton would make a sober, smart and pragmatic president. Donald Trump would be a catastrophe.”  

In a 2018 Interview, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong told NPR “We’ll be as competitive vis-à-vis The New York Times and The Washington Post.”

#13: One America News Network (OAN)

Bias Rating: FAR RIGHT
Factual Reporting: MIXED
Country: USA (44/180 Press Freedom)
Media Type: TV Station
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic

In review, OAN is a far-right biased news channel and website that uses moderately loaded words in headlines and articles such as this: Sen. Schumer Refuses To Back Down On Border Wall Funding. This article does not offer sourcing at all. In another article Senate Floats Restrictions On Detentions Of Illegal Aliens In Government Spending Bill, there is a lack of sourced information.

One America News writes articles that are very short and easy to read. They aim to keep stories under 1 minute long. Story selection almost always favors the right and, in particular, President Donald Trump. An article in AdWeek describes how the owner of Herring Networks directs his newsroom to favor Trump: “According to internal emails, Herring has directed his channel to push Trump’s candidacy, scuttle stories about police shootings, encourage antiabortion stories, minimize coverage of Russian aggression, and steer away from the new president’s troubles, according to more than a dozen current and former producers, writers and anchors, as well as internal emails from Herring and his top news executives.”

OAN has also promoted unproven conspiracies such as the Seth Rich Murder and chemical attacks in Syria.

#14: Snopes

Bias Rating: LEFT
Factual Reporting: VERY LOW
Country: USA (44/180 Press Freedom)
Media Type: Website
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic

Snopes uses a very conscious, malicious form of misinformation to mislead and manipulate their readers by selective application of facts and omission of context. Usually they do this to present a partisan picture advancing a particular narrative, specifically the preferred perspective the corporate establishment wants to promote.

Their strategy, used time and time again, is simple:

1) Create a strawman statement that is clearly false.

2) State that it is false.

3) Painstakingly establish that said strawman is not true with evidence.

What is important to note is the contents of the “what’s true” section, which is usually the bulk of the story.

“How Swede is It” is an excellent nonpartisan example of their prevalent and very transparent tactics in action. This story focuses heavily on the assertion that Sweden is “officially moving to” a 6 hour workday, as described in some viral videos people share on Facebook. Focusing on the semantics and interpreting that as “the country has passed laws mandating fewer work hours” they are correct in stating that statement is false. However the video did not make that assertion. And when Snopes acknowledges that “some businesses in Sweden have started experimenting with a shorter workday” that is the lead that gets inevitably buried. That is true.

But Snopes does not care to make true claims and rate them as such.

You will not necessarily be able to find Snopes lying directly but even the most casual analysis will consistently reveal an abundance of extraordinarily harmful omissions, and strawmen abounding almost any even moderately politicized topic. It’s not an unfounded assertion that Snopes is rife with misinformation.

#15: Politifact

Bias Rating: LEFT-CENTER
Factual Reporting: MIXED
Country: USA (44/180 Press Freedom)
Media Type: Website
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic

Editorially, Politifact does not directly produce op-eds; however, many fact-checks attempt to rationalize statements rather than stating directly if the statement was said and if it is true. For example, they fact-checked this statement by Republican Ted Cruz: “You didn’t see Republicans when we had control of the Senate try to rig the game. You didn’t see us try to pack the court.” Politifact rated this claim false, and on many levels, it is false.

The Republicans denied Democratic appointee Merrick Garland’s confirmation in 2016 and rushed conservative Amy Coney Barrett through while still controlling the Senate. However, it is not true that they tried to pack the court in the way Democrats are currently proposing. The Democrats propose adding four more seats to give them a majority over the court. The Republicans did not do this. They packed the court in a much different way. The claim should be rated mostly false or half true.

In reviewing Politifact for several years now and using them as a fact-checking source for this website, we have seen this trend of rating Republicans more harshly on numerous occasions. This update moves Politifact to Left-Center Biased based on this reasoning.


Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x