Koch's Americans for Prosperity Fails in Effort to Smear Critic

An effort by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) to brand a frequent critic as a "liar" has been contradicted by a recording of the alleged deceit. AFP has not issued a retraction.

On November 8, Americans for Prosperity published a blog post on their website titled "Lee Fang Lies: The Real Face of 'Think Progress.'" Fang is a researcher and blogger for Think Progress and has written many articles about the Koch brothers, including about their business practices and lobbying efforts, and about their role in manipulating the Tea Party.

The alleged "lie" occurred when Fang tried to get media credentials for the Americans for Prosperity "Defending the American Dream Summit" held in D.C. on November 4. According to the AFP blog post:

Fang told Americans for Prosperity Foundation that he is a student "visiting from California," who "had to fly home tomorrow" and had really hoped to cover the event.

The problem is, Fang recorded the conversation, and clearly identified himself as a reporter with Think Progress, not as a college student. And he really was flying home to California the following day. From the recording:


FANG: How you doing?

AFP PRESS STAFFER (ADAM): Good, you? [inaudible]

FANG: We e-mailed a couple of times, didn't get a response back. But uh, we're trying to cover this conference.

AFP PRESS STAFFER (ADAM): Where you from?

FANG: ThinkProgress.

AFP PRESS STAFFER (ADAM): ThinkProgress? Okay. Um, who'd you send it into?

. . .

AFP PRESS STAFFER (Adam speaking to AFP's public affairs director Levi Russell): Hey we got Lee and Travis from ThinkProgress. Did we get their...

RUSSELL: Um… did you guys send an e-mail registering?

. . .

FANG: Yeah, I live in California. I didn't know I would be here this long, but I'm just doing a longer trip. But it would be great to just cover this–

RUSSELL: Yeah. Sorry.

(a full transcript is available by clicking "show more" on the youtube recording, or at Think Progress)

The AFP post also alleges Fang also lied about living in California:

However, Fang is listed as a "resident of Prince George's County, Maryland" on his ThinkProgress author page. His wikipedia page says that he "attended college at the University of Maryland, College Park."

Fang says AFP never reached out to him for a clarification, and that he really did move to California several months ago. He has broadcast the fact that he is a West coast resident through twitter and in media appearances.

Despite clear evidence that the allegations made in the AFP posting were untrue, it has reportedly refused to correct the allegations. Fang writes that he called AFP's Director of Public Affairs, Levi Russell, to explain that the accusations were false, but Russell told him "no, I'm not going to correct it."

As of November 10, the AFP post is still live. Comments to the AFP site must be approved by a moderator, and efforts to link to the Think Progress article that counters the AFP narrative have not been approved.


I also commented yesterday at AFP questioning when a retraction would be forthcoming. Mine never saw the light of day either.