These media sources have a slight to moderate liberal bias. They often publish factual information that utilizes loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by appeals to emotion or stereotypes) to favor liberal causes. These sources are generally trustworthy for information but may require further investigation. See all Left-Center sources.
- Overall, we rate The Washington Post as Left-Center biased based on editorial positions that moderately favor the left. Due to a few failed fact checks, they earn a Mostly Factual rating.
Bias Rating: LEFT-CENTER
Factual Reporting: MOSTLY FACTUAL
MBFC’s Country Freedom Rating: MOSTLY FREE
Media Type: Newspaper
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic
MBFC Credibility Rating: HIGH CREDIBILITY
The Washington Post (WaPo), headquartered in Washington, D.C., was founded in 1877 by Stilson Hutchins. He was a journalist, publisher, and passionate Democrat who later became a Missouri state representative for the Democratic Party and operated The Post until 1889. Republican financier Eugene Meyer bought The Washington Post in 1946. After Meyer stepped down to become head of the Federal Reserve, his son-in-law, Philip Graham, became publisher.
In 1947, after Philip Graham committed suicide, his wife, Katharine Meyer Graham, took over the Washington Post Company. She was the first female publisher of a major American newspaper. Her son, Donald Graham, became a publisher in 1979. Donald Graham was the chairman of The Post before selling it to Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Katharine Weymouth, a granddaughter of Katharine Meyer Graham and niece of Donald Graham, served as the Washington Post publisher until her resignation in 2014. Currently, Will Lewis, a former Dow Jones executive, is the CEO of The Post.
Funded by / Ownership
In 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post for $250 million. Bezos is a frequent target of Trump, who has accused the businessman of using the Postal System as its “Delivery Boy.” The newspaper’s executive editor, Martin Baron, said Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon, is not involved in its news coverage. According to a NY Magazine article, “Bezos is libertarian who has given money to anti-tax initiatives in the past” and supports gay marriage through donations. Bezos also donated to both Democratic and Republican Senators, respectively.
The Washington Post played a part with The New York Times in publishing excerpts of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. The original papers can be viewed here. The WaPo started reporting on Watergate in 1972, linking the DNC break-in to Nixon’s campaign and eventually bringing down the administration of President Richard Nixon.
According to Pew Research, the Washington Post is more trusted by liberal readers than conservatives. However, in 2016, The Washington Post published an anti-Bernie Sanders editorial, “Bernie Sanders’s fiction-filled campaign,” that the New Republic called an “embarrassment.” Further, a Reuters Institute survey found that 43% of respondents trust their news coverage and 32% do not, ranking them #8 in trust of the major USA news providers.
The WaPo was involved in a scandal in 1980 when they published an article by Janet Cooke that won the Pulitzer Prize. Cooke later returned the Pulitzer Prize when it turned out the story was not true.
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 editorials “The Trump administration created this awful border policy. It doesn’t need Congress to fix it.” They typically utilize credible sources such as Propublica.org, Associated Press, Slate, Princeton.edu, New York Times, wired.com, and CNN when it comes to sourcing.
Story selection and editorials tend to 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 to “find the fraud” and that 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 mostly factually and with a left-leaning editorial bias. While still a highly credible source, there needs to be a level of caution when they utilize anonymous sources.
Failed Fact Checks
- A computer infected by malware proved a Vermont power company targeted for disruption by Russian hackers. – Mostly False
- Donald Trump said, “find the fraud,” “National Hero” – False (corrected 2 months later)
- At least 50% of people who survive Covid-19 have debilitating health issues in the months afterwards. – False
Overall, we rate The Washington Post Left-Center biased based on editorial positions that moderately favor the left. Due to a few failed fact checks, they earn a Mostly Factual rating. (5/18/2016) Updated (M. Huitsing 11/05/2023)
Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Media Bias Fact Check
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