Because the Associated Press is arguably one of the most prominent media outlets in America — it’s a wire service, meaning media outlets across the country publish AP articles, relying on its content to fill gaps in their coverage — we keep a close eye on the bias of this source.
- AP Spread False Story About a Capitol Officer's Death
- Sept. 2020 AP Politics Editorial Review
- Sept. 2020 AP Politics Editorial Review
- April 2020 AP Fact Check Editorial Review
- About AP Politics
- About AP Fact Check
AP Spread False Story About a Capitol Officer's Death
In 2021, the Associated Press repeated the false story that Capitol police officer Brian D. Sicknick was beaten to death with fire extinguisher by Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol building on Jan. 6. The story spread rapidly through the press after initially being reported by The New York Times. Some accused the outlet of spreading disinformation. AllSides details the story and charges of disinformation here.
Sept. 2020 AP Politics Editorial Review
An Editorial Review is when the AllSides team, which includes an equal number of people from the left, center and right of the political spectrum, reviews the works of a source and comes to a general consensus on its bias. On September 4, 2020, we concluded that in U.S. politics coverage, AP often reported with a left-leaning perspective and story choice. AP Politics very constantly included subjective analysis in political news coverage, often analyzing or framing the story in a way that couldn’t be objectively inferred from available facts and amounting to interpretation. We found subjective language often employed in ways that cast President Trump, the Republican Party, or conservative/right-leaning values and topics in a negative light. Read about the Types of Media bias AP displays here.
AllSides found numerous AP Politics stories that seemed to favor left-leaning perspectives or standpoints. Over months of thorough reviews, we failed to locate any AP stories that seem to favor right-leaning angles or standpoints.
April 2020 AP Fact Check Editorial Review
AP Fact Check was assessed via AllSides Editorial Review in April 23, 2020. We determined AP Fact Check bias is Lean Left. AP Fact Check frequently favors left-wing interpretations, and AP is more likely to fact-check right-wingers and Republicans than those on the left.
During our April 23 review, AllSides noted that AP Fact Check (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 the coronavirus. However, AP’s omission of fact checks on left-wing issues and 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 Check often displayed an ideological bias of appeal to elites, such as quoting the World Health Organization (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 experienced a surge in populist questioning of and pushback against elite institutions in 2020 and the years leading up to it. 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 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.