Rick Berman

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Rick Berman is one of America's most prominent lobbyists. His Washington based PR firm Berman & Company aggressively targets groups seeking to promote controls relating to alcohol, tobacco, food safety, animal rights or the environment. Berman is behind numerous front groups that seek to prevent regulation and promote individual freedoms. He works in a range of controversial areas including defending products including caffeine, salt, fast food and alcohol. He is at odds with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, animal rights activists, food watchdog groups and trade unions.

In an interview Berman said "The businesses themselves don't find it convenient to take on causes that might seem politically incorrect, and I'm not afraid to do that." When called a hired gun by the interviewer Berman responded; ""Well, I go out to people and I say, 'Look, if you believe in what I believe, will you help fund it?' Now, I don't know if that's a hired gun or not. But, the point is, yes, I do get paid for educating people. If that's my biggest crime, I stand accused..."[1]. The so called 'education' provided by Berman and friends comes from a distinctly libertarian right wing perspective and his critics are not accusing Berman of 'educating people'.

Strategy

Berman's strategy involves setting up front groups that appear to be independent non-profit educational or campaigning groups. Companies then provide funding directly to the groups. On the Berman & Company website only four clients are listed, all of these 'clients' are the front groups founded by Berman to promote or defend the interests of his corporate clients. [2]. The groups fronted by Berman that he claims as clients are: [3]

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Berman and his team focus on attacking public health campaigners, they aim to uncover any errors, exaggerations or inconsistencies in a deliberate effort to undermine any opponent's credibility. "Shooting the messenger means getting people to understand that this messenger is not as credible as their name would suggest," Berman claims. [4] The internet is an important campaigning tool for Bermans work he has founded numerous websites dedicated to attacking the "nanny state" and "do-gooders run amok" who he blames for scaring the public.

Affiliations & Employment History

[5]

Campaigns

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  • Fish Scam and MercuryFacts.org These campaigns accuses some scientists and government agencies of scaremongering over the effects of consuming mercury through fish. According to their website:
Approximately 4.4 million U.S. households earning $30,000 or less completely eliminated their purchases of canned tuna between 2000 and 2006. During those years, women in those households gave birth to nearly 260,000 children. And canned tuna was the only source of omega-3 fatty acids their mothers could afford to buy. These children are victims of public-health malpractice by green groups and the federal government, which have been issuing dire but exaggerated warnings about harmless levels of mercury that have always been present in ocean fish [6]
  • PETA Kills Animals This campaign attacks the animal rights group PETA and claims they kill defenceless animals. One quote from PetaKillsanimals.com states:
Animal rights nuts live in a world where the line between fact and fiction is blurry, at best. On Planet PETA, for instance, circus elephants aren't a source of family entertainment, or a fantastic mechanism to prevent the extinction of a vulnerable species [7]
  • Hands Off the Internet a campaign group with some very high profile corporate members dedicated to preventing any internet regulation. It is co-chaired by Mike McCurry a principal consultant at Public Strategies Washington, and Christopher Wolf a "pioneer in internet law" [8]
  • CSPLscam a group dedicated to undermining the Center For Science in the Public Interest describing them as "food police" or "nutrition nannies". It undermines any efforts to challenge the food industry and promotes individual choice over all else. [9]
  • Responsible Drinker this campaign seeks to change the message "don't drink and drive" to "Drink Responsibly. Drive Responsibly." because "some anti-alcohol activists are seeking to eliminate any drinking before driving through harsh restrictions and extreme policies. These groups are trying to change behavior - even though more than 40 million Americans drink responsibly before driving each year" [10]
  • The Employment Policies Institute this group campaigns against the minimum wage, among its claims are that the minimum wage and plans to increase it are causing a "teen unemployment crisis". [11] According to American trade unions the campaign against the minimum wage is part of a wider campaign to erode workers rights.
  • Union Facts is another Berman operation that campaigns against Americas trade unions, they publish anti-union propaganda. [12]
  • ActivistCash a campaign dedicated to exposing public health campaigners, activists and scientists as corrupt fundamentalists intent on reducing personal freedoms.
  • SunlightScam a campaign run on behalf of sunbed and related industries dedicated to undermining the link between sunbeds and skin cancer. This campaign also accuses dermatologists of having financial links to sun screen companies. [13]
  • AnimalScam.com
  • ObesityMyths.com
  • PhysicianScam.com
  • Trans-FatFacts.com
  • Big Green Radicals (circa 2014) - an advertising and public relations campaign which 'has placed a series of intentionally controversial advertisements in Pennsylvania and Colorado, two states where the debate over fracking has been intense. It has also paid to place the media campaign on websites serving national and Washington audiences'. However The Denver Post editorial page, 'generally supportive of the oil and gas industry, has criticized Mr. Berman’s tactics, calling one video spot — featuring fictitious environmentalists who debate if the moon is made of cheese before calling for a ban on fracking — “a cheap shot at fracking foes".' The New York Times revealed a secret recording of Berman telling a conference full of oil and gas industry executives that if they want to prevent opponents from slowing efforts to drill in more places, they 'must be prepared to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities'. [14]

External resources

Notes

  1. CBS News, Morley Safer, 22nd July 2007 Meet Rick Berman, A.K.A. "Dr. Evil" accessed 12th November 2009
  2. CBS News, Morley Safer, 22nd July 2007 Meet Rick Berman, A.K.A. "Dr. Evil" accessed 12th November 2009
  3. Berman & Company Website Clients accessed 12th November 2008
  4. CBS News, Morley Safer, 22nd July 2007 Meet Rick Berman, A.K.A. "Dr. Evil" accessed 12th November 2009
  5. Zoom Info Rick Berman accessed 12th November 2008
  6. Fish Scam Website Hooked on the Hype accessed 12th November 2008
  7. PETAkillsanimals.com Exclusive: PETA Killed More than 90% of the Animals in its Care in 2007 PETA’s 2007 Euthanasia Records Available Only at PetaKillsAnimals.com acessed 12th November 2008
  8. Hands of the Internet About accessed 12th November 2008
  9. CSPLscam Website Home Page accessed 12th November 2008
  10. Responsible Drinker A Campaign for Responsible Drinking accessed 12th November 2008
  11. The Employment Policies Institute Home Page accessed 12th November 2008
  12. Union facts homepage accessed 12th November 2008
  13. SunlightScam Home Page accessed 12th November 2008
  14. Eric Lipton, Hard-Nosed Advice From Veteran Lobbyist: ‘Win Ugly or Lose Pretty’ 30 October 2014, acc 2 November 2014