Factual Reporting: MIXED
World Press Freedom Rank: USA 45/180
Founded in 1980 by Ted Turner, The Cable News Network (CNN) is an American basic cable, satellite television channel, and website. CNN was the first 24-hour cable news channel; however, by April 2016, a CNN executive officially described the channel as “no longer a TV news network” and instead as “a 24-hour global multi-platform network.” CNN has multiple stations covering many countries around the world. They have been inaccurately characterized as being fake news by President Trump and many of his supporters.
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Funded by / Ownership
The Cable News Network is owned by the Turner Broadcasting System (AT&T – Time Warner). The television stations and website is funded through cable subscriptions and an advertising model.
Analysis / Bias
In review, CNN presents straight news coverage with a left-leaning bias in story selection that is often critical of the right. For example, during the 2016 Presidential Election Pew Research concluded that the majority of CNN stories covering President Donald Trump were negative. While less dramatic, Pew also determined that more stories were negative toward Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012.
Editorially, CNN’s programming almost exclusively favors the left. For example, a typical panel discussion will feature 4 to 8 guest commentators with one being a Republican, such as Rick Santorum. This creates a situation where left-leaning voices drown out the right.
CNN typically utilizes loaded emotional words in sensational headlines such as this: Trump pounces on Justice Department report findings. They usually source their news properly through credible reporters/journalists and through hyperlinking to credible media sources. However, CNN has failed several fact checks from Politifact. It should be noted that these fact checks were almost exclusively from guests on their numerous talk shows and not from the reporting of actual news, which tends to be factual. 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 utilized known purveyors of pseudoscience as experts on discussion panels such as the Food Babe.
A 2014 Pew Research Survey found that 44% of CNN’s audience is consistently or mostly liberal, 40% Mixed and 20% consistently or mostly conservative. This indicates that CNN is preferred by a more liberal audience.
Failed Fact Checks
Overall, we rate CNN left biased based on editorial positions that consistently favors the left, while straight news reporting falls left-center through bias by omission. We also rate them Mixed for factual reporting due to several failed fact checks by TV hosts. However, news reporting on the website tends to be properly sourced with minimal failed fact checks. (5/16/2016) Updated (D. Van Zandt 09/22/2020)