These media sources are moderately to strongly biased toward conservative causes through story selection and/or political affiliation. They may utilize strong loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes), publish misleading reports and omit reporting of information that may damage conservative causes. Some sources in this category may be untrustworthy.
- Overall, we rate Americans for Prosperity a borderline Questionable Right Biased source due to advocacy for right-leaning libertarian policy and numerous failed fact checks. We also rate them Mixed for factual reporting due to a significant number of failed campaign ad fact checks.
Factual Reporting: MIXED
World Press Freedom Rank: USA 45/180
Americans for Prosperity (AFP), founded in 2004, is a libertarian/conservative political advocacy group in the United States and is considered a major force behind the tea party movement. According to Factcheck.org “Founded by billionaire businessman and conservative/libertarian political activist David Koch, Americans for Prosperity has emerged as one of the most influential conservative issue advocacy groups on the national and state political scene. The current President is Tim Phillips.
Funded by / Ownership
Americans for Prosperity is registered under the IRS code as a 501(c)(4). As such, it is not required, nor does it, disclose its donors. It is allowed to advocate for political issues, but cannot solicit votes for a specific candidate. Its sister organization, Americans for Prosperity Foundation, is a 501(c)(3), a designation that allows donations to be tax-deductible but has restrictions on political activity. Due to their 501(c)(4) status, most donors are unknown (dark money). According to Open Secrets AFP has donated/supported Republicans 99% of the time.
Analysis / Bias
In review, AFP has advocated for opposition to Obama administration initiatives such as global warming regulation, the Patient Protection, and the Affordable Care Act, the expansion of Medicaid and economic stimulus. It helped turn back cap and trade, the major environmental proposal of Obama’s first term. AFP advocated for limits on the collective bargaining rights of public-sector trade unions and for right-to-work laws, and it opposed raising the federal minimum wage.
The Americans for Prosperity website features sections such as “Latest Actions”, which highlights their advocacy. There is also a section called “Our Focus”, which highlights news by AFP such as this: NEW REPORT: The Right Way to Stop Government Shutdowns and Budgeting by Crisis. Finally, they offer a section called “Newsroom”, which publishes right-leaning news stories such as this: Congress, stop budgeting by crisis. This story is properly sourced to Pew Research.
Editorially, AFP supports a Libertarian/Conservative Republican perspective. For example, with climate change they support a free-market approach, while not denying that global warming is human-influenced, Five Myths About the Latest Carbon Tax Proposal. When covering President Trump they often agree with his policies, however, they also criticize the President when they disagree: AFP Urges Trump Administration to Stop Escalating Trade War. In general, AFP supports free-market Libertarian principles but often fails fact checks due to their political ads.
A factual search reveals numerous failed fact checks with a small sampling listed below.
- As Tennessee governor, Phil Bredesen “supported higher taxes on us. Higher gas taxes. Higher sales taxes.” – False
- Says Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Russ Feingold “voted over 250 times to raise taxes.” – False
- “300,000 Floridians have lost their health insurance” as a result of Obamacare. – False
- “Health care premiums up 90 percent in New Hampshire.” – False
- Millions of Americans are “paying more and getting less” under Obamacare. – False
- Says Kay Hagan “supports waivers for friends of Obama and special treatment for Congress and their staffs.” – False
Overall, we rate Americans for Prosperity a borderline Questionable Right Biased source due to advocacy for right-leaning libertarian policy and numerous failed fact checks. We also rate them Mixed for factual reporting due to a significant number of failed campaign ad fact checks. (7/18/2016) Updated (D. Van Zandt 3/13/2020)