CNN Web News has a Left AllSides Media Bias Rating™.
NOTE: This rating is not for CNN's TV/broadcast content, nor its opinion/editorial content. This bias rating reflects the online, written news content available on CNN.com only. AllSides does not rate broadcast content for any outlet. We provide a separate Media Bias Rating™ for CNN's Opinion/Editorial content here.
We split our bias ratings for CNN Web News and CNN Opinion/Editorial on December 21st, 2017, because they were significantly different; read our explanation here. In January 2021, we determined the bias of CNN's news content and editorial content now matches, and both are Left.
Table of Contents
- November 2020 Blind Bias Survey: CNN Moves from Lean Left to Left
- March 2018 Editorial Review: CNN Moves from Center to Lean Left
- Third Party Accusations of Bias
- Community Feedback
- Pew: CNN Audience Makeup as of 2014
- CNN Media Bias Ratings™ Prior to 2017
- Is CNN Fake News?
- About CNN
- Funding, Financing and Ownership
November 2020 Blind Bias Survey: CNN Moves from Lean Left to Left
After analyzing the results of our November 2020 Blind Bias Survey, in which 2,285 people across the political spectrum blindly rated CNN's content, AllSides moved CNN's Media Bias Rating™ from Lean Left to Left. We officially shifted CNN's bias rated to left on Jan. 15, 2021.
On average, people who self-reported that they are on the left rated CNN as being between Lean Left and Left; people in the center and on the right found CNN on average to be Left. The average rating from people across the political spectrum was Left.
For this survey, AllSides collected two types of content from CNN's website: top headlines from two different days at the same time of day, and top stories CNN ran around two major national news stories. Stories and headlines were stripped of branding and any information that would allow participants to identify the outlet. Participants were asked to rate the bias of CNN on a scale of Left, Lean Left, Center, Lean Right, and Right.
After analyzing the results of this survey, members of the AllSides team conducted some independent reviews of CNN's content, and decided to move the outlet's rating to Left.
During our independent reviews, team members on the left, center and right noted a lot of sensationalism in CNN's news reporting. One team member with a Center bias said, "CNN uses proper source attribution and good hyperlinks, and often has clear, accurate labels for content. However, its homepage is dominated by anti-Trump/anti-GOP narratives and features few to zero anti-left/anti-Democrat narratives. The reports themselves are often skewed by a lack of right-leaning sources, biased/subjective language, or omission of facts that may, if included, counter a left-leaning point of view."
We found CNN's fact-checking section was very skewed toward an anti-Donald Trump/anti-GOP focus, and that the outlet didn't focus nearly as much on fact checking Democrats or Joe Biden — or really anything except President Donald Trump.
March 2018 Editorial Review: CNN Moves from Center to Lean Left
After conducting deep editorial analysis and analyzing user feedback, on March 27th, 2018, AllSides moved the Media Bias Rating™ for CNN Web News from Center to Lean Left. More details as to why we made the change can be found in our March 2018 blog post on the matter, as well as below.
After years of receiving feedback from AllSides users that our media bias rating of CNN Web News as Center was incorrect, we conducted an extensive editorial review in March 2018, after which we decided to move CNN Web News to a Lean Left rating.
For our review of CNN Web News, the entire AllSides team read CNN’s homepage and politics page every day for a week and compared it to other Center and Lean Left sources. We looked at the stories CNN chose to cover as well as the prominence certain stories held over others.
We found CNN Web News has a tendency to include a lot of Opinion and Analysis without labeling it clearly as such until afterreaders clicked through to the full article. This means CNN displayed Opinion-level content alongside hard news on the homepage, making it look like the Opinion pieces are objective, fact-based news.
We also found that there were Left-leaning and Center articles featured on CNN, but the outlet never published a Right-leaning article. (Note that a Center rating is assigned if we see a balance of biases being represented, which is not the case with CNN.)
Third Party Accusations of Bias
In January 2020, CNN faced accusations of bias over its moderation of a 2020 presidential debate between Democratic candidates.
There has been ongoing disagreement among the AllSides community over CNN Web News' rating. In 2018, we broke down the numbers around CNN Web News' media bias and leftward shift here.
Pew: CNN Audience Makeup as of 2014
According to the 2014 Pew Research Study, Where News Audiences Fit on the Political Spectrum, 44% of CNN’s audience holds political values to the political left or left-of-center. About 17% of CNN's audience holds right or right-of-center political values (compared with 38% of all respondents to the survey). Roughly 40% of CNN's audience is considered to have mixed or center-aligned political values (compared with 36% of all respondents to the survey).
CNN Web News - Media Bias Ratings Prior to 2017
The results from AllSides' January 2013 and October 2013 blind surveys, as well as data from a 2005 UCLA study of media bias all rated CNN as Center. However, the scores in both of the blind surveys were on the border of Center, leaning towards Left.
As of July 2016, the majority of 7,500 AllSides users agreed with our bias rating of Center for CNN Web News. When those who disagreed were asked what CNN’s media bias rating should be, on average they said Lean Left. These results suggested that CNN was on the border of Center and Lean Left, so further analysis continued. As of 2018, after extensive editorial review, AllSides changed CNN Web News media bias to Lean Left. In 2021, it was moved to Left.
Is CNN Fake News?
President Donald Trump and others have accused CNN of being fake news. Fake news can be defined in many ways, and can refer to either overtly false information, or information that is biased or manipulative in some way. AllSides explored whether CNN is fake news on the blog in May 2019.
CNN was founded in 1980 by Ted Turner as a 24-hour cable news channel, the first 24-hour news channel at the tine. In April 2016, an executive of CNN said that the channel “is no longer a TV news network,” but “a 24-hour global multiplatform network.” CNN is among the world's leaders in online news and information delivery. Staffed 24 hours, seven days a week by a dedicated staff in CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, and in bureaus worldwide, CNN relies heavily on its global team of almost 4,000 news professionals. The CNN website features the latest multimedia technologies, from live video streaming to audio packages to searchable archives of news features and background information. The site is updated continuously throughout the day. CNN is available in over 100 million American households. In 1998, the Four Freedom Award for the Freedom of Speech was awarded to CNN.
Note: Funding and ownership is not taken into account when determining AllSides Media Bias Ratings. While it's true ownership and financial interests can affect what goes to print, our bias ratings are determined by assessing the bias of content only. We provide financial and ownership information as an FYI to our readers.
CNN’s parent company is Warner Media LLC, which also owns HBO, Otter Media, Warner Brothers, and Turner Broadcasting System. Warner Media is then owned by parent company AT&T. AT&T is publicly traded. John Stankey is the CEO of AT&T Inc.
Financing and ownership information last updated February 1, 2021