AllSides conducted an editorial review of AP Fact Check on April 23, 2020.
During our April 23 review, AllSides noted that AP’s fact check section (with posts displaying only as far back as February) had a clear focus on President Trump; there were not as many instances of AP fact checking Democrats or other folks on the left. AP did fact check the Feb. 2020 Democratic Debate. It is hard to say whether the Trump focus necessarily constitutes a lean left bias; the editorial team agreed that this could simply be due to the fact that Trump is the president and had been doing daily news briefings around coronavirus. However, AP’s omission of fact checks on left-wing claims that other sources were looking into during the same time frame, such as claims made by Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, does constitute a lean left bias.
Our team noted AP Fact Checks often display an ideological bias of appeal to elites, such as quoting the WHO or other government institutions rather than looking into claims themselves. This form of bias is not necessarily partisan; both the left-wing and right-wing are experiencing a surge in populist questioning of and pushback against elite institutions. The team noted some sensationalism in content written by journalists Hope Yen and Calvin Woodward.
Our April 23 editorial review of AP and AP Fact Check was significantly hampered by the fact that the WayBack Machine, an internet archive tool we rely on to read the source’s content dating back six months, was returning broken links for AP. It is always true that our our editorial reviews and blind bias surveys deal only with a snapshot in time. It is possible that a source’s bias differs on different days or across different topics.
In addition, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic dominated headlines on this day, which offered a narrower range of topics to assess for bias.