Factual Reporting: HIGH
World Press Freedom Rank: USA 45/180
Founded in 1997, The Smoking Gun is a website that posts legal documents, arrest records, and police mugshots on a daily basis. According to their about page “The Smoking Gun brings you exclusive documents–cool, confidential, quirky–that can’t be found elsewhere on the Web.” The editor and primary writer is William Bastone.
The website slightly lacks transparency as they do not clearly disclose ownership on the website.
Funded by / Ownership
The Smoking Gun is owned by William Bastone, Andrew Goldberg, and Joseph Jesselli through the company TSG Industries Inc. Revenue is derived through advertising and sponsored content.
Analysis / Bias
In review, The Smoking Gun publishes news stories that are sourced from police reports and legal documents. According to their about page “Using material obtained from government and law enforcement sources, via Freedom of Information requests, and from court files nationwide, we guarantee everything here is 100% authentic.” The website also features mugshots and a database of bizarre requests made by celebrities in their contracts.
The news stories use sensational headlines to grab attention such as this More Season’s Beatings From Sunshine State but always link to evidence. The Smoking Gun primarily publishes information on the more bizarre crimes that are committed, but they do not produce editorial content and all information is factual and sourced to documents.
Failed Fact Checks
- None to date
Overall, we rate The Smoking Gun Least Biased based on minimal editorializing. We also rate them High for factual reporting due to proper sourcing and a clean fact check record. (D. Van Zandt 12/14/2016) Updated (12/24/2020)