A recent video from The Young Turks (TYT) made several incorrect assumptions and conclusions about our Media Bias Chart. Since the program hosts, Ana Kasparian and Cenk Uygur, did not respond to our requests for clarification and correction, I’d like to address some of the inaccuracies here.
First, Kasparian questioned the funding behind Ad Fontes Media and the Media Bias Chart®. She reported that Aion Partners, a private equity firm based in New York and founded in 2001, invested in Ad Fontes. This is not true. Our lead investor for our most recent funding round was Aion Ventures, which is a small venture capital fund that started operations just this past year.
Aion Ventures’ Managing Partner is Troy Root, who is passionate about our mission and companies that can have a positive impact on the world. More information about Aion Ventures, Troy, our other major investors (such as New Community Transformation Fund-Denver), what we do, and why they invested, can be found in this press release and related media coverage in AdExchanger.
Kasparian suggested without evidence that TYT was placed low on the Media Bias Chart because of her previous reporting about real estate, and that Aion Partners, which invests in real estate, was obviously upset by that coverage. Since Aion Partners has not, in fact, provided funding to Ad Fontes Media, this claim is unsubstantiated and false.
TYT makes a number of assumptions and raises questions about who we are and what we do, so allow me to state clearly what Ad Fontes Media is and does. The mission of Ad Fontes Media, as stated on our website, is:
“Since 2018, we’ve been on a mission to rate the news and make a positive impact on society. For too long, people have not had enough access to impartial ratings of the news. That’s why we’re here: to rate the news for reliability and bias so you don’t have to.”
We do not monitor the news media. Our aim, however, is to uplift the news ecosystem so that society as a whole may benefit from higher reliability news sources. The manner through which we choose to do this is through offering news literacy and media literacy subscriptions to individuals and educators. In addition, we sell our data to advertisers, brands and publishers so they can invest in high quality and highly reliable news sources.
The other main error regarding our ratings is the TYT hosts’ statement that Fox News is rated “way above us in credibility.” The hosts may have been comparing our rating of Fox News’ website rating rather than its TV/video rating to TYT’s video rating. We separate out web content from video content for all sources who produce both. Most text-based content rates higher for reliability in our system than video content because the former tends to include more straightforward fact-reporting and fewer opinions or biased content. For example, CNN’s website rates higher than its TV network, and Fox News’ website rates higher than its TV network.
Since we rate only video content from TYT, the better apples-to-apples comparison is to Fox News’ overall TV network, which is quite similar to TYT Network’s overall rating, shown here:
Fox TV network lands where it is because it has a mix of shows that are rated quite low — indeed lower than any TYT shows (Hannity, Jesse Watters, Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson when he was there, etc.) plus daytime programming that contains more fact reporting and is rated higher than TYT shows. The spread is shown here:
Since all TYT shows are heavily analysis and opinion, they score within a tighter range of each other. So while Fox and TYT’s overall TV scores are similar, they are for different reasons. TYT’s content is “opinion” and Fox News’ content has a “wide variation in reliability.”
The TYT hosts repeatedly refer to Ad Fontes Media as “corporate media,” and we are certainly not that. I’m a lawyer by background and started doing this work just a few years ago because of my passion for bringing people together. We’re a small company made up of a lot of folks with a similar passion for bringing people together. Lots of journalists, teachers, librarians and civic servants make up our analyst team.
The work that we do is important, and I’m proud of it. I’m always willing and appreciate the opportunity to respond to critiques of our work and to correct any misunderstandings.
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Vanessa Otero is a former patent attorney in the Denver, Colorado, area with a B.A. in English from UCLA and a J.D. from the University of Denver. She is the original creator of the Media Bias Chart (October 2016), and founded Ad Fontes Media in February of 2018 to fulfill the need revealed by the popularity of the chart — the need for a map to help people navigate the complex media landscape, and for comprehensive content analysis of media sources themselves. Vanessa regularly speaks on the topic of media bias and polarization to a variety of audiences.