Washington Post labels ISIS terror leader “austere religious scholar”

Yahoo News photo illustration.

Example of Media Bias:

The Washington Post on Sunday TWICE changed the headline of its obituary for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS terror leader who died in a U.S. raid in Syria over the weekend.

The original headline, posted online after President Trump announced al-Baghdadi’s death, read:

“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Islamic State’s ‘terrorist-in-chief,’ dies at 48.”

It was changed to:

“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48.”


Following widespread criticism (and mocking on Twitter), it now reads:

“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State, dies at 48.”

Identifying Media Bias

To accurately identify different types of bias, you should be aware of the issues of the day, and the liberal and conservative perspectives on each issue.

Types of Media Bias:


1. What type of bias does the Washington Post’s choice of headline display?

2. Why do you think the editors changed the headline describing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi  to “austere religious scholar”? Explain your answer.

3. Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) tweeted: “Every day The Washington Post uses harsher words against @realDonaldTrump than they do in writing about one of the world’s most evil terrorists. Yet we’re supposed to take them at face value. Let that sink in.”

Do you agree with Rep. Scalise? Explain your answer.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.


1. Bias by spin.

2. Opinion question. Answers vary.

3. Opinion question. Answers vary.