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Is The Daily Wire (Right bias) “fake news?”

What constitutes examples of propaganda, fake news, or misinformation is a point of major disagreement among the left and right. Media outlets that favor the political left or right may repeat claims or stories that suit their worldview and agenda. To some, this can constitute “fake news” — especially if they disagree.

Related: Red-to-Blue Translation of “Fake News”

The Daily Wire is one of the fastest-growing outlets on the right, particularly on Facebook, where the site attracts more engagement per post than even CNN (Left bias) and Fox News (Right bias). But like many other news sources, such as CNN and The New York Times, The Daily Wire has published content that some critics may consider “fake news.”

While The Daily Wire publishes news content, it is largely a publisher of conservative opinion and commentary. The Daily Wire’s About page says it “does not claim to be without bias,” adding, “We’re opinionated, we’re noisy, and we’re having a good time.” Current Daily Wire content usually distinguishes between news and opinion, but Daily Wire articles historically combined the two with the label “News and Commentary.”

Defining Fake News

There is broad disagreement as to what ought to be referred to as “fake news” in general.

Today, many left-leaning mainstream media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, and The New York Times, have begun to more often refer to “misinformation” — fictional, made-up information or false narratives. In the past, when outlets on the left referred to “fake news,” it was largely in reference to purely false or made up information.

Related: What is Fake News?

However, media outlets and people on the right, as well as some on the progressive left, have been known to use a broader definition of “fake news” to describe media coverage that may include some factual information but is overly biased, deceptive, or manipulative. They believe that established media powers are employing bias, misrepresenting facts, failing to do good-faith research, focusing on the wrong things, pushing false narratives, and/or lacking credibility — all amounting to “fake news.” For those using this definition, they may see The Daily Wire as fake news.

Meanwhile, people from all sides of the political spectrum — left and right —have noted that the term “fake news” can be used to discredit anyone or anything someone disagrees with or doesn’t like. 

An entire news outlet isn’t “fake news” because it posted one incorrect or false story. Mistakes do happen. Often, good journalists who make a mistake or accidentally publish false information issue apologies and corrections, and try to rectify the situation. 

Related: Is The New York Times Fake News?

Related: Is CNN Fake News?

However, there are some examples of The Daily Wire publishing what some may say amounts to “fake news.”

Is The Daily Wire Fake News?

  • Accusations of Climate Change Denial
  • Misattributing COVID-19 Restrictions in California
  • Accusations of Inspiring “Outrage” on “Culture War” Issues

Accusations of Climate Change Denial

The Daily Wire has published at least two articles that some critics said misinterpreted scientific articles and cast doubt on the existence of man-made climate change

Science-focused fact-checker Climate Feedback (Not Rated) has published several analyses of Daily Wire content. In 2017, a group of eight Climate Feedback reviewers said a Daily Wire article originally titled “Global Quackery: Earth Has Not Warmed For Past 19 Years, New Study Finds,” had “very low” scientific credibility. The reviewers said the article featured an unfounded claim from a UK tabloid that “an imminent ice age is coming” and relied on another article that scientists said “fundamentally misrepresents both our research and the operational data products we provide.”

The Daily Wire updated the article, now titled “REPORT: Earth Has Not Warmed For Past 19 Years,” but made no mention of the update — a practice sometimes called “stealth editing.”

In 2021, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (Lean Left bias) — a non-profit claiming to counter “hate and disinformation” on issues like climate change, Ukraine and abortion — included The Daily Wire as eighth in its “Toxic Ten” list of “fringe publishers” fueling “69% of digital climate change denial.” For context, Russian state media outlet RT (Lean Right bias) was listed ninth. 

A report on the “Toxic Ten” list said The Daily Wire spread “misleading climate content,” citing a 2019 opinion article arguing that “there is no evidence” that rising global temperatures “will pose any problems for humans, certainly will not pose any problems for Americans.” The report also accused Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro of using his large social media platform “to reject scientific consensus on climate change,” citing a 2020 tweet saying climate change “is not an existential threat to humanity.”

In response, The Daily Wire published an opinion piece by (Right bias) editor Tim Graham, who called the Center for Countering Digital Hate a “British leftist group.” Graham argued the “Toxic Ten” report went too far by categorizing “any challenge to Greenpeace climate-crackdown orthodoxy” as “toxic.” He also accused left-rated outlets like The Guardian (Lean Left bias) and The Washington Post (Lean Left bias) of advocating for “distasteful censorship” of “any criticism of climate panic” on sites like Facebook. 

Many scientists and major institutions, such as the United Nations, argue climate change is real and influenced by human activity. A 2022 report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated the world had warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius since before industrialization and warned of “a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.” 

Those who believe climate change is a man-made, existential threat to mankind may view the Daily Wire’s skepticism of this view as “fake news.” Those skeptical of such climate claims probably would not agree that The Daily Wire is spreading anything “fake.”

Misattributing COVID-19 Restrictions in California

A 2021 Daily Wire article titled “Biden Administration Claims ‘Misinformation’ On Social Media Is Creating Vaccine Hesitancy. Here’s All The Times Democrats Made People Hesitant” inaccurately stated that California Gov. Gavin Newsom had implemented additional COVID-19 restrictions. In fact, the state of California had eased restrictions a month earlier.

After pushback from organizations like NewsGuard (currently unrated by AllSides, but which some argue has a left bias), The Daily Wire corrected the article to specify that Los Angeles County, not California, had implemented new mask requirements. 

The correction reads: “A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) was instituting more lockdown restrictions. The claim was a reference to new masking requirements in Los Angeles. The article has been corrected to note that Los Angeles County, not Newsom, was responsible for the new restrictions.”

The Daily Wire’s coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic received criticism from several other institutions and fact checkers. Oxford University’s Internet Institute labeled The Daily Wire as a purveyor of “junk health news” in April 2020, criticizing the outlet’s characterization of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as having implemented public health restrictions to retaliate against protesters. 

Accusations of Inspiring “Outrage” on “Culture War” Issues

The Daily Wire and its leading personalities have sparked several controversies over their opinion coverage of social issues — particularly transgender issues — which could lead some to regard The Daily Wire as “fake news.”

In July 2021, NPR’s (Lean Left bias) Miles Parks accused The Daily Wire and Ben Shapiro of using “outrage as a business model” by repackaging “journalism from traditional news organizations with a conservative slant.” Parks cited an NPR review that found “numerous stories about potential side effects from COVID-19 vaccines, but none that portrayed the scientifically demonstrated efficacy of the vaccines.”

Shapiro responded to the NPR article by stating, “The establishment media's deep desire to keep people from clicking on stories they want to read, and to re-establish their traditional informational monopoly -- now an effort funded by US taxpayer dollars via NPR -- is truly authoritarian garbage.” 

The NPR article also noted that Shapiro tapped into “culture war themes.” In 2022, The Daily Wire focused on one “culture war” topic far more than others — transgender issues. This sometimes involved favorably covering high-profile figures like Dave Chappelle — who stirred controversy for making several jokes at the expense of trans activists — or highlighting an LGBTQ diversity administrator who got fired

The outlet’s focus on trans people peaked in 2022 with the documentary “What is a Woman?”, in which commentator Matt Walsh asked a wide range of people to define the word “woman.” The premise echoed a moment from the Ketanji Brown Jackson Supreme Court hearings, as well as conservatives’ broader frustrations with the transgender movement, such as calls to adopt trans-inclusive language (like preferred pronouns) and medical treatments for trans people

Walsh later tweeted that “it should be illegal for doctors” to perform transition procedures for “anyone of any age.”

The Daily Wire continued to press the issue. In a July 1 op-ed published in The Daily Wire,  Canadian professor Jordan Peterson defended a tweet (for which he was banned from Twitter) in which he called trans actor Elliot Page by his birth name and said the physician who performed Page’s top surgery was “criminal.” Shapiro and others came to Peterson’s defense, arguing that accusations of “deadnaming” — the act of calling a trans person by their birth name — really referred to “when you notice that someone has changed his or her name.”

Those who believe that deadnaming is morally wrong, and who support transgender medical interventions and trans-inclusive language, may characterize Shapiro’s and Peterson’s words as misrepresenting the issue or pushing a false narrative — or in other words, as “fake news.” 

What Does Fake News Mean to You?

So, is The Daily Wire “fake news”?

While the majority of its published claims are based in fact, The Daily Wire is still largely a publisher of opinion and commentary. 

There are cases of The Daily Wire publishing false or unproven claims, but the majority of its news content is based in fact. Yet for some people, only a few examples of false information or the publishing of viewpoints they disagree with are enough to qualify The Daily Wire and others as “fake news.”

In our polarized democracy, people have very different opinions about what constitutes fake news. AllSides rates media bias and has developed the AllSides Media Bias Chart™ to help you easily identify different perspectives, compare coverage, and find the truth.

Joseph Ratliff is a Daily News Editor at AllSides. He has a Lean Left bias.

This piece was reviewed by Julie Mastrine, Director of Marketing and Media Bias Ratings (Lean Right), and Managing Editor Henry A. Brechter (Center bias).