BuzzFeed media bias article leaves misimpressions. (That may be the point.)

The following is a news analysis

Today I received an inquiry from BuzzFeed reporter Tasneem Nashrulla that appeared so sloppy— even for a writer at a quasi-news site– that it was particularly remarkable.

First, the reporter contacted me only after the article that mentioned me was published. (That’s sort of frowned on in journalism circles.)

Then, when I pointed out the reporter’s errors and misimpressions, and asked for a correction, the reporter and his or her editor declined.

The subject matter was a Media Bias chart I constructed some time ago. (See here.)

See what you think of the BuzzFeed position.

Original email from reporter:

Hello Sharyl,

This is Tasneem Nashrulla, a reporter with BuzzFeed News. I’m writing about President Trump’s claims this morning about Google search results being “rigged” against him to shut out conservative media outlets.

He appears to have seen this on last night’s episode of Lou Dobbs Tonight which cited a PJ Media study that used your Media Bias Chart from 2017 to analyze Google search results on two different computers to test the premise that Google search results had an anti-conservative bias.

I saw that you updated your chart today. Could you tell me what prompted you to update the chart today and what changes did you make to the original chart?

You had earlier included a link to this Lorain County Community College site which contained a list of the political leanings of magazines and newspapers. The link no longer appears in your article. Did you delete the link today and if so, why?

You included a link to a Pew Research Center chart as a source for your media bias chart. The Pew chart says it measures audience bias, not media bias. Can you explain how this study factored into your chart?

Do you believe that your chart is an accurate representation of media bias and if it can be effectively used to analyze Google search results to show that Google has an anti-conservative bias?

We’ve published our story on the study, and will update it with your responses.

Thank you.


My response:

Hi Tanseem!

I did not update chart today. Can you tell me what prompted you to make that allegation?

I did not change the original chart today. Again, please let me know what makes you make that allegation?

If I do update the chart in the future it will be to add new items or change items based on feedback.

I didn’t delete any links or make changes to the article.

Yes I think it’s a pretty accurate representation obviously because I wouldn’t aim to create a chart with an inaccurate representation, but since much rests on matters of opinion, that’s up to the beholder.

Please read the article for caveats and notes such as: Compiling such a chart is obviously difficult for many reasons, some of them having to do with space. The spacing should be considered relative and not an indicator of absolute position. A number of the information sources technically belong on top of one another.

As I stated in my article, there are many views and alternates such as the ones I linked to in the article:

My chart adds to the charts that are out there and can be considered alongside them or as people choose.

I then read the BuzzFeed article that had already been published and followed up with this:

Tasneem, I just looked at your article. I understand what you are aiming to do. Nonetheless, please correct the following misrepresentations:

“Attkisson said she compiled the chart ‘from various sources and your feedback.’ The link on ‘various sources’ is to a Pew Research Center study that measures audience bias, not the alleged bias of an outlet.”

The above sentence implies that I have misrepresented something. I have not. 

“The ‘media bias chart’ includes sites that are not news outlets but peddlers of outright unproven conspiracy theories — such as Infowars.”

The above sentence also seems to imply something improper. I didn’t title it a “news” chart, it’s appropriately titled a “media” chart and Infowars is a media organization. 

“Attkisson also links to more Infowars content on her website explaining the chart.”

The above statement falsely implies that I used “infowars content” to “explain” my chart (as if for sourcing). That’s untrue. As explained in the article, I included links to alternate/opposing charts and one of them is infowars. The infowars chart is not a source for my information but a competing chart, if you will, with different results. Please make this clear in your correction and let me know when it posts. Thanks.

After checking another of the reporter’s allegations, I followed up with this:


Lastly, I checked and the missing Lorain link you asked about isn’t missing, it’s still there where it alway was on the word “sources” at the beginning of the article.

Check your work.

Here’s the BuzzFeed response:

Sharyl, thanks for getting back. We believe we have represented everything appropriately. I’m happy to add a description of the Lorain link to our story.

I was asking about the date because the dateline on your post that contains the chart shows today’s date.



Attkisson Note: On WordPress, to put an old article on the front page requires putting the current date on the article. This apparently led the BuzzFeed writer to falsely conclude — before asking — that I had mysteriously changed or altered the content of my Media Bias chart. I don’t blame the reporter for not understanding the technology, I’m technically challenged myself, but that’s why it is irresponsible to make assumptions and conclusions before you have full information. We should be wise enough to know when there are things we might not know.

I asked to appeal to a supervisor the BuzzFeed decision not to correct the misimpressions in the article. Tasneem connected me to editor, Tom Namako, who almost immediately stated they weren’t going to change the article and stand by it as written.

I asked Tom Namako about Tasneem’s mistakes. He said it didn’t bother him because they were made in an email to me, not in the story. I suggested this reflected something about the quality of the reporter. He said he has confidence in and stands by his reporter.

I asked that Tom correct the misimpressions given in BuzzFeed article, particularly the false implication that I somehow used InfoWars to explain or develop my chart. I pointed out that the InfoWars link I included was among a selection of links at the bottom of my article pointing to alternate media bias charts that are different than mine– so people can consult different views than mine.

Nonetheless, Tom said he said he wasn’t going to change anything in the article because, “The fact is you linked to a conspiracy theory website.”

And that was that.

(Here’s the uncorrected BuzzFeed article followed by a link to the InfoWars chart and the MediaBias Fact Check chart)

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18 thoughts on “BuzzFeed media bias article leaves misimpressions. (That may be the point.)”

  1. Hello Sharyl,,
    I thank you for your work,,, is Pizzagate the “Elephant in the Room”,,, I understand the courage it would take to publish the in-depth expose’,,, but ,,, The truth needs to be told,,, same as someone needs to shine spotlights on HRC connections to Pedos like John PEDOsta,,, J.Epstein,,, F. Guestra,,, the Vatican,,the royals,,, Hollywood,,etc..

  2. Buzzfeed is too pushing narratives to be bothered with facts. Are they deflecting to divert attention from their part in the Steele dossier scandal? I wonder.

  3. The BBC reporting about Building 7 and Walter Cronkite’s sudden interruption during the Apollo Moon extravaganza are examples about the history of control and blackout by media. Truth ? What is Truth ?

  4. I’m not American so I’d like to know, aren’t there any laws agaisnt misrepresentation or attempted character assassination in the US? If an article like the one published by Buzzfeed was released where I live, they’d be legally forced to either edit the article (even if it’s just an addenda with the corrections summarized) or they’d have to pay a heavy fine and forced to remove the whole article under the pressure of harder measures if they don’t.

    Seems like you can almost get away with murder in the US… the laws are too soft, no accountability for actions that can hurt or even ruin someone’s reputation. It’s one thing to do a mean tweet, but it’s very different when they present themselves as a source of information and they abuse that position like this.

    I can’t wait for the day I see the news that “Buzzfeed is out of business”.

  5. Might be time for an updated chart. Instead of left/right, have a separate one for fake news. They would qualify perfectly.

  6. Political left wing corruption abounds. All I need know is a newspaper publisher, a former news desk editor, a retired professor of journalism and writer for a newspaper of record and bipartisan legislators inform me that:
    1) Associated Press was absolutely unreliable and politicized strong left but no better sources existed as all similar national and international were left politicized;
    2) same is true of all major journalism schools;
    3) Ben Rhodes bragged to misleading a willing politicized White House media corps of naive, biased, gullible mouthpieces for the Obamista’s propaganda;
    4) the NYT was so left politicized because it distributed left propaganda as news so long and hard they were unacceptable as employers;
    5) Illinois state government is run by 3 Chicago thugs and is thoroughly corrupted;
    6) a random use of search engines demonstrates universally far left propagandize results;
    7) the irony of the buzzfeed juvenile reporting and editorial stance critical of your work is overwhelming proof of your good work.
    None of the miscreants deny the obvious truths, so

  7. Buzzfeed killed the link.
    Frauds…the lot of them.
    Real journalism thrives…HAHA!..
    What does a insurance policy look like?!
    Thank god for the truth seekers…
    we are paying attention…believe it or not.

  8. Wow, as if the trash on Facebook isn’t bad enough. The internet has clearly done severe damage to journalistic standards. Fact checking and editing seem to have been relegated to the dinosaur exhibit. I’m reminded of the film “all the President”s Men where Jason Robards as absolutely merciless on Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as to the accuracy of their sourcing. Some of these new “journalists” could learn a lot by watching that film.

    1. This is an example of how far journalism has strayed from the fundamentals of fair reporting in the unfortunate quest to advance an agenda rather than accurately inform readers/viewers/listeners. Every problem this “journalist” created for himself could have been avoided by contacting Ms. Attkisson BEFORE publication, but of course that may have turned his “bombshell” into a fizzler.

      Thank you for showing us all how the sausage is made in this new golden (showers?) age of journalism.

  9. “outright unproven conspiracy theories”

    By a spectacular lack of self awareness, they don’t realize that “outright unproven” describes perfectly all these theories about Trump-Russia, climate skepticism-Russia, vaccines-Russia, or Russian “meddling” which are promoted by all “mainstream” outlets.

  10. Dear Sharyl,
    It is such a pleasure to see you “school” the young propagandists on how journalism is done. I am quite sure they know exactly what they are doing but have decided to “downsize” their targets to make sure they reach those they believe less able to launch a defamation suit. But your book “Smear” explains these tactics perfectly.

    In fact when I read of WSJ throwing one of it one under they bus today I was reminded of you book by the Headline “Anatomy of a Fusion Smear”.


  11. What a brilliant headline to the Buzzfeed article. Clickbait journalism at its finest.

    This is yet another horrible example of how today’s reporters publish quickly then ask questions later. Just a few short years ago, it was convention to at least notify the source of the publication 20 minutes before publishing (usually while the source was sleeping!).

    Now it’s cool to send it live then email after the fact. Corrections (if any) in small notes at the end of the story.

    Ryan Holiday’s book, “Trust Me, I’m Lying” is an excellent primer on how the news is now developed “bottom up” these days — and easily gamed for outrageous headlines like Buzzfeed’s here.

    Sad but common.

  12. Sharyl,

    I was amuse but not surprised by Buzzfeed’s behavior. Its editor, Ben Smith, was once-a little over ten years ago-the city hall editor for the NY Daily News. At the time I had been a lobbyist and PR consultant for the better part of 3 decades who also had a local political blog. Once, when going into City Hall, Smith stopped me and said: “Richard, your blog is tendentious.” I looked at him. kinda amused, and replied: “Ben, it’s a blog what’d you expect?.”

    Now the amusement becomes exponentially more hilarious since Smith now edits an entire putative news site that is itself thoroughly tendentious. We’ve come full circle. Nice to be somewhat connected to a great investigative reporter-even if tangentially.

  13. Sharyl, I want to let you know that links to your articles are being flagged as SPAM in Disqus comment sections on websites such as and Nobody can see my comment if I link to one of your excellent articles.

  14. Journalism is dead. The two scariest books I’ve read are your Stonewalled and Smear…..I haven’t finished the later because it reads like a horror book. I keep putting it down afraid of what might be coming. I am getting through it. I did not vote for Trump. He won legally and I might like what he is accomplishing. I just don’t want any of my grandchildren behaving as he does.

    What scares me is the cabal at the top of the FBI and Justice Dept. who, based on factual text messages, are trying to take down a legally elected President. Police State anyone?

    Sen. Phil Graham (Dem. then a Rep.) once said to us…..I’ll paraphrase….Presidents come and Presidents go, but the bureaucracy lives on forever. If we as a country don’t fix the actions at the top of the FBI and Justice we are in serious trouble. We used to count on the press to help us. Remember the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, anyone?

  15. Ms. Attkisson, in your position, I’d readily concede the point made by Buzzfeed’s Tom Namako that you had “linked to a conspiracy theory website.” And I’d concede far more, viz., that as part of the exercise in building a “media bias chart,” you had “linked” to multiple websites with unacceptably low standards for candor and simple decency, websites overseen by people who seemed to have virtually no grasp of or regard for a professional journalistic standard or even rational thinking. On what other basis could he imagine that a link to Buzzfeed had appeared in the chart?

  16. Before the 2016 election I thought CNN and FOX NEWS were mirror images in terms of their relative bias. Now, I would say CNN more closely reflects the mindset of INFOWARS – which is ironic in terms of Buzzfeed’s “conspiracy theory website” response. Of course, as NBC’s Chuck Todd recently showed (re: Roger Ailes echo chamber comments), the mainstream-media are completely oblivious to their own bias; instead, casting themselves in a laughably heroic light. When a person or group experiences such levels of detachment from reality, the trainwreck of mainstream journalism starts to make sense.

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