Factual Reporting: HIGH
World Press Freedom Rank: USA 48/180
Founded in 2007, by two former Washington Post Journalists, John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei, Politico is a news and opinion website based in Virginia, USA. Currently, John F. Harris is the editor-in-chief. In 2016, Jim VandeHei left Politico and now is the co-founder and CEO of Axios. They describe their vision as “Politico strives to be the dominant source for politics and policy in power centers across every continent where access to reliable information, non-partisan journalism and real-time tools creates, informs and engages a global citizenry.” It distributes content via the internet, the Politico newspaper, radio, and podcasts. Its coverage in Washington, D.C., includes the U.S. Congress, lobbying, media and the presidency. They also have their own bi-monthly magazine that covers politics, news and opinions.
Funded by / Ownership
Robert L. Allbritton is the Publisher and Executive Chairman of Politico. Allbritton is also the owner of Capitol News Company, which owns Politico as well as its sister company, CapNY. Politico has a subscription based service called Politico Pro, launched in 2010 for professionals, such as lobbyists and analysts, which provides policy intelligence coverage on technology, energy and other sectors. Politico.com does not require a subscription and their print newspaper is available for free in locations throughout Washington D.C., however outside of DC and overseas it is subject to a subscription fee. Both the website and print editions feature advertising.
Analysis / Bias
Both sides of the political spectrum have accused Politico of either having a left or right bias. For example, Media Matters for America, a progressive media watchdog group in Washington, has accused them of having a “Republican tilt.” Politico also published an article criticizing Obama for not being a strong supporter of Israel: “Obama’s Jewish Problem”. In another article they state that Liberals are not as tolerant as they say they are: “Why Liberals Aren’t as Tolerant as They Think.” Further, here is an article criticizing Democratic Socialism: “Down Goes Socialism” and another criticizing Bernie Sanders, “Bernie’s army in disarray.” Lastly, according to the Poynter Institute, Politico is balanced.
The right leaning Daily Caller has also criticized Politico for having a liberal bias when they compared a New York Times headline to Politico’s Playbook headline, by claiming that it “Extended further to the left than the NYT on this headline.”
A 2014 Pew Research Survey found that 59% of Politico’s audience is consistently or mostly liberal, 16% Mixed and 26% consistently or mostly conservative. This indicates that Politico is preferred by a more liberal audience.
In review, Politico occasionally publishes listicles such as “All of Trump’s Russia Ties, in 7 Charts.” They also publish articles with minimally loaded words such as “Ocasio-Cortez warns Trump Jr. about subpoena power in response to meme”, and they source to credible media outlets such as Reuters and the NY Times. However, they sometimes do use emotional headlines such as this: Establishment looks to crush liberals on Medicare for All.
Editorially, they provide a balance of opinions as evidenced by the criticism they have received from both sides. Further, their news articles tend to be balanced through covering both sides and counterpoints to the story they are reporting on.
A factual search reveals they have not failed a fact check.
Overall, we rate Politico Least Biased based on balanced coverage of news stories and High for factual reporting due to proper sourcing and a clean fact check record. (5/18/2016) Updated (M. Huitsing 10/07/2019)