PunditFact, the branch of PolitiFact that checks statements made by political commentators, has rated MSNBC host Rachel Maddow’s claim that the Koch brothers are connected to a program to drug-test welfare recipients in the state via a think tank as “mostly false.”
Last week, Maddow accused the Koch brothers of pushing the law through their involvement the Florida Foundation for Government Accountability (FFGA), but Powerline’s John Hinderaker detailed how the brothers weren’t connected at all. They’ve donated a relatively insigificant amount of money to the State Policy Network, a trade association of think tanks of which FFGA is a member — and from which the FFGA hasn’t received funding. The Koch brothers have said they were not even aware of FFGA. Maddow’s team barely gave the Kochs any time to comment on the segment prior to airing it, reaching out to them only 45 minutes beforehand.
The fact-checkers also spoke with a Notre Dame professor and nonprofit advocacy expert who said it was “a stretch” to say the Kochs’ affiliation with the State Policy Network tied it to FFGA. A Mother Jones journalist who wrote a book on the Kochs echoed those sentiments, saying the link was “tenuous” and that he hadn’t seen any evidence suggesting they were linked to the group. PunditFact found other falsehoods in Maddow’s claims: For instance, FFGA did not exist until after the drug-testing law was signed, though “it clearly supported the drug-testing law after it passed.”
But Maddow has refused to back off her original charges, using time on a follow-up show to object to the brothers’ request she correct the record, while promisng her viewers that she takes great care to correct errors. She defiantly rejected a statement from their lawyers about the inaccuracy of her reports, stubbornness that earned her kudos from her left-wing audience. Maddow has highlighted her “devotion to facts that borders on obsessive,” but the revelations from PunditFact, Powerline, and others suggest otherwise — at least when it comes to her Koch habit.