Sunday, November 02, 2014

Rick Berman-- As Evil And Destructive As The Koch Brothers And The Adelsons?


The first thing this morning, we tried, once again, dealing with the nature of conservatism and its historical demands for austerity. Thursday the NY Times came at it from another perspective-- a secretly taped speech by Dr. Evil, Rick Berman, an opportunistic union-busting fanatic and a vicious operative for the worst of the one percent. A sleazy lobbyist, he calls what he does "public relations" and he is the direct descendent of G.E.'s contemptible right-wing propagandist Lemuel Boulware. His enemies are environmental groups, organized labor (and working families), health, and any organization trying to regulate the excesses of corporate predators who are willing to write him a check. As Greg Sargent put it in 2005, "From his offices a block from the White House, Berman wages a never-ending public-relations assault on doctors, health advocates, scientists, food researchers, and just about anyone else who highlights the health downsides of eating junk food or being obese... However, while Berman presents himself as a defender of consumers against overbearing bureaucrats and health zealots, he's really defending the interests of another group: restaurant chains, food and beverage companies, meat producers, and others who stand to see profits hampered by government regulations, or even by increased health awareness on the part of customers."

Almost a decade on, Berman is still at it, as Eric Lipton reported in The Times. This time it was at a secret conclave of Big Oil executives in Colorado Springs last summer. The advise he was offering-- advise that has made him very wealthy-- was as ugly as anyone who knows anything about Berman would ever expect.
If the oil and gas industry wants to prevent its opponents from slowing its efforts to drill in more places, it must be prepared to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities, a veteran Washington political consultant told a room full of industry executives in a speech that was secretly recorded.

The blunt advice from the consultant, Richard Berman, the founder and chief executive of the Washington-based Berman & Company consulting firm, came as Mr. Berman solicited up to $3 million from oil and gas industry executives to finance an advertising and public relations campaign called Big Green Radicals.

The company executives, Mr. Berman said in his speech, must be willing to exploit emotions like fear, greed and anger and turn them against the environmental groups. And major corporations secretly financing such a campaign should not worry about offending the general public because “you can either win ugly or lose pretty,” he said.

“Think of this as an endless war,” Mr. Berman told the crowd at the June event in Colorado Springs, sponsored by the Western Energy Alliance, a group whose members include Devon Energy, Halliburton and Anadarko Petroleum, which specialize in extracting oil and gas through hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. “And you have to budget for it.”

What Mr. Berman did not know-- and what could now complicate his task of marginalizing environmental groups that want to impose limits on fracking-- is that one of the energy industry executives recorded his remarks and was offended by them.

“That you have to play dirty to win,” said the executive, who provided a copy of the recording and the meeting agenda to The New York Times under the condition that his identity not be revealed. “It just left a bad taste in my mouth.”

...“I get up every morning and I try to figure out how to screw with the labor unions-- that’s my offense,” Mr. Berman said in his speech to the Western Energy Alliance. “I am just trying to figure out how I am going to reduce their brand.”

Mr. Berman offered several pointers from his playbook.

“If you want a video to go viral, have kids or animals,” he said, and then he showed a spot his company had prepared using schoolchildren as participants in a mock union election-- to suggest that union bosses do not have real elections.

“Use humor to minimize or marginalize the people on the other side,” he added.

“There is nothing the public likes more than tearing down celebrities and playing up the hypocrisy angle,” his colleague Mr. Hubbard said, citing billboard advertisements planned for Pennsylvania that featured Robert Redford. “Demands green living,” they read. “Flies on private jets.”

Mr. Hubbard [a paid thug he employs] also discussed how he had done detailed research on the personal histories of members of the boards of the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council to try to find information that could be used to embarrass them.

But the speech, given in June at the Broadmoor Hotel and Resort, where the Western Energy Alliance held its 2014 annual meeting, could end up bringing a new round of scrutiny to Mr. Berman and the vast network of nonprofit groups and think tanks he runs out of his downtown Washington office.

Mr. Berman repeatedly boasted about how he could take checks from the oil and gas industry executives-- he said he had already collected six-figure contributions from some of the executives in the room-- and then hide their role in funding his campaigns.

“People always ask me one question all the time: ‘How do I know that I won’t be found out as a supporter of what you’re doing?’” Mr. Berman told the crowd. “We run all of this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors. There is total anonymity. People don’t know who supports us.”

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At 9:43 PM, Anonymous zoidberg said...

Don't forget how his son called him, "an exploiter. A scoundrel. A world historical motherfucking son of a bitch" and severed their relationship because Rick wouldn't give up his evil ways:


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