Hamas’ attack on Israel and subsequent declaration of war by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu caught the world by surprise.

The news caused a massive rift around the world, with many countries taking sides in the war – such as the United States reaffirming its support to Israel and saying it will supply the country with military support to combat Hamas.

News media outlets also covered the surprise attack and subsequent events differently. AllSides analyzed several outlets from the left and right to uncover how outlets are covering the attack on Israel and those that committed it differently.

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There were a few interesting findings from the analysis of outlets covering the breaking news. First, while nearly all outlets described the Hamas invasion of Israel as an “attack,” The Guardian (Lean Left bias) was the only outlet analyzed – out of 25 – that did not at all. Instead, The Guardian frequently referred to the attack as an “incursion.”

Other outlets on the left and right also referred to the attack on Israel as an incursion, including NBC News (Lean Left bias), Fox News (Right bias), and The Daily Mail (Right bias).

Across the political spectrum, outlets consistently described Hamas as “militants” and “fighters” but there was one word significantly more prevalent on the right: “terrorists.”

On the right, outlets such as Fox News, The Daily Wire (Right bias), Breitbart (Right bias), The Washington Times (Lean Right bias), The Washington Examiner (Lean Right bias), and The New York Post (Lean Right bias) all described Hamas as terrorists in their initial reporting of the attack.

The Daily Wire, in particular, visually described the attack: “Horrifying scenes unfolded throughout Israel on Saturday as Palestinian Islamic terrorists stormed the country, launching thousands of rockets into the country and gunning down innocent civilians in the streets.” The Daily Wire was founded by Ben Shapiro, a Jewish journalist, which may contribute to The Daily Wire’s coverage of the conflict.

On the left, only one outlet – The New York Times (Lean Left bias)mentioned Hamas being regarded as a terrorist organization by the United States. Nine other outlets on the left did not use the word terrorists to describe Hamas.


Words Used Most on Each Side of the Media in Hamas Attack Coverage

Coverage of the initial attack from Hamas on Israel featured a lot of similar, predictable words on the left and right – like Israel, Attack, War, and Gaza – but there were some noticeable differences.

First, outlets on the right mentioned Hamas by name slightly more than outlets on the left, while outlets on the left mentioned Palestinian and Civilians more – focusing more on the effects of the war, and conflicts for thousands of years, that the conflict has had on innocent people in Gaza.

A Palestinian journalist for The Nation (Left bias) argued that “While the Israeli army claims to be targeting resistance posts and so-called ‘terror’ locations in Gaza, the reality is that civilians have borne the brunt of the tragedy unfolding so far… Once again, ordinary citizens find themselves caught in the midst of death and war… The reality is that Israel has been slowly killing all 2.3 million people in Gaza for the past 16 years.”

On the right, outlets also mentioned the rockets that Hamas launched from Gaza into Israel more often than the left.


How Do Media Outlets Describe Hamas?

Outlets across the spectrum also had articles dedicated to answering the question “What is Hamas?” AllSides looked at these articles separately from the analysis in the rest of this piece.

Outlets on the left – The New York Times, NPR (Lean Left bias), NBC News (Lean Left bias), The Atlantic (Left bias) – mentioned that Hamas is a designated terrorist organization by the US and other countries and that they govern the Gaza strip. Vox (Left bias) did not refer to Hamas as a terrorist organization, though the Vox article is from 2018 (the only article not from 2023). Hamas has been a designated terrorist organization in the U.S. since 1993. NBC News added, “Other countries, including New Zealand, deem only Hamas’ military wing, which is called the Qassam Brigades, to be a terrorist group. The U.N. has not designated any part of the organization as a terrorist group. In addition to its militant activity, Hamas provides social services for people in Gaza, such as education and medical care.”

While The New York Times, NPR, and The Atlantic acknowledged that Hamas’ mission includes annihilating Israel, with The Atlantic saying officials in Hamas have made blatantly anti-Semitic statements, NBC News deferred to Hamas’ self-definition. NBC News said, “Hamas says it is a freedom-fighting movement trying to free Palestinians from occupation and reclaim large parts of Israel… A recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, based in Ramallah, found that about a quarter of Palestinians said movements like Hamas were “the most positive thing that has happened to the Palestinian people since 1948.’”

On the right, most of the outlets – NewsMax (Right bias), Fox News, The Washington Examiner, the New York Post, and The Epoch Times (Lean Right bias) – emphasized Hamas’ terrorist designation and its violent mission. While outlets on the left tended to mention the terrorist designation a few paragraphs into the article, outlets on the right tended to include it in the headline or first lines of the article. On the left, there was mention of the suicide bombings that put Hamas on the map as a terrorist group, but on the right the descriptions of violence tended to be more detailed and emphasize the extremity of the violence. 

The Epoch Times said, “Israel—created in the aftermath of the Holocaust, where 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis—experienced the biggest single-day massacre of Jews since history's darkest hour,” while the New York Post included specific numbers: “The surprise assault, which included rocket strikes on nearby villages in Israel, has killed more than 800 Israelis and left nearly 2,200 wounded. Around another 100 people have been taken hostage by the Iran-backed extremists. The attack, the largest of its kind in the last 50 years, led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare war against Hamas, with the Jewish State’s counterattack killing 370 Palestinians and injuring around 2,000 and threatening a full-scale ground invasion.”

The Daily Mail was an outlier among the right, it did not mention Hamas’ designation as a terrorist group and, like NBC News, included their actions in the community, saying, “Responsibilities here split again into a social welfare system, with Hamas collecting tax and using funding to help the poor, build schools and run medical centres.” All other articles from outlets on the right omitted mention of this community work. 



In total, 20 outlets were analyzed, including 10 rated as on the left and 10 rated as on the right by AllSides. Each article was pulled as the most-prominent article from that source after the Hamas attack on Israel and after Israel’s Prime Minister declared war on Hamas.

In total, 11,666 words were analyzed from outlets on the left and 7,057 words were analyzed from outlets on the right. There are simply far more politically-focused, left-rated news sources than there are similar sources on the right, which is a key reason for the disparity in words analyzed. The word clouds exclude embedded X posts (formerly Twitter).


Andrew Weinzierl is AllSides’ Bias Research Manager & Data Journalist. He has a Lean Left bias. Clare Ashcraft is AllSides’ Bridging and Bias Specialist. She has a Center bias.

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