The Onion has a Lean Left media bias rating.
Table of Contents
- Aug. 2020 Editorial Review
- April 2020 Independent Review
- Third-Party Claims of Bias
- Self-Proclaimed Bias
- About The Onion
- Funding, Financing and Ownership
Aug. 2020 Editorial Review
During an Aug. 2020 Editorial Review of The Onion, the AllSides team, which contains people from the left, center, and right, had a consensus that The Onion has a Lean Left bias.
The team noted that The Onion only makes fun of the establishment left, not the far left. It lacks right-wing comedy poking fun at the far left; in addition, The Onion doesn't make fun of the far right.
The team noted that in 2016, The Onion's parody content included positive spins in favor of Hillary Clinton. In Aug. 2020, there was more emphasis on Donald Trump and on making fun of the political establishment as a whole, as well as entrenched government, framed as ineffective from a far-left perspective, not a Center perspective.
The Onion had a focus on absurdist humor and had a largely anti-establishment bias.
One team member noted that The Onion seems "more to be attacking the Democratic party from a trendy, far-left perspective." They noted media bias by omission in that The Onion did not critique left-wing protesters, which was a massive event and topic of conversation in Summer 2020.
April 2020 Independent Review
Following an independent review by an AllSides editor on April 27, 2020, AllSides gave The Onion an initial rating of Lean Left. Our reviewer noted that The Onion generates humor and satire content poking fun at both sides, but moreso at right-wing figures and ideas.
Third-Party Claims of Bias
A 2016 TIME article referred to The Onion as "left-leaning."
A Feb. 2020 Politico article accused The Onion of going "full-on Bernie Bro," referencing 2020 Democratic candidate for president Bernie Sanders. Writer Derek Robertson stated that while The Onion had "served up equal-opportunity political satire" since 1996, "over the latest presidential cycle, anyone reading closely might notice the site’s treatment of Bernie Sanders looks less like a skewering than an affectionate back rub."
"The Onion" laid out its new ideology unambiguously in an August 2019 piece titled “Democrat Party: Moving Left Vs. Remaining Moderate.” The article is less a series of jokes than a laundry list of familiar complaints from the activist, Bernie-friendly left about moderate Democrats, like criticizing their foreign policy as “10 percent less than whatever Dick Cheney would do.”
In the aforementioned Feb. 2020 Politico article, the writer quotes The Onion's editor-in-chief, Chad Nackers, as saying, “The Onion started in Madison [Wis.], and people are pretty progressive … a lot of Bernie’s policies are progressive things that we want to back.”
In 2008, Onion writer Tom Hanson told the Washington Post: "I wouldn't say we have the broadest spectrum of political inclinations on our staff, but we're not here to be a pal to liberals or to be a mouthpiece for the Democratic Party. We're here to make fun of things that are dumb."
About The Onion
The Onion is an American satirical digital media company and newspaper organization that publishes articles on international, national, and local news.
The company is based in Chicago but originated as a weekly print publication on August 29, 1988 in Madison, Wisconsin. The Onion began publishing online in the spring of 1996. In 2007, they began publishing satirical news audio and video online as the Onion News Network. In 2013, The Onion ceased publishing its print edition and launched Onion Labs, an advertising agency.
The Onion runs the website ClickHole, a response to viral sites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy, as well as PatriotHole, a channel parodying right-wingers.
Funding, Financing and Ownership
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.