Who is Rick Berman? Unless you are a big corporate executive looking to wage a big PR war against some consumer group, you would never have a reason to know him. Yet you’ve probably heard of one or more of Berman’s front organizations, like The Center for Consumer Freedom and HumaneWatch, which essentially target the general public and attack consumer groups like The Humane Society, PETA, The Center for Science in the Public Interest and many other leading environmental, animal welfare and social justice groups.
Long story short, Berman is a veteran political insider and lobbyist in Washington and a notorious public relations consultant to mainly the big players in the tobacco, alcoholic beverages and food industries.
Berman is infamous for creating his own non-profit organizations on behalf of his corporate clients. These pro-big business, corporate-financed front groups pose as ‘objective,’ fact-based information sites that serve the public interest. Yet their primary purpose is to attack the causes that threaten his clients’ bottom line. Here are some of the more notorious front groups to look out for:
The Center for Consumer Freedom: a front group for the-food-and-beverage industry that attacks groups or individuals critical of smoking, fast food or alcohol.
HumaneWatch attacks the Humane Society of the United States specifically, claiming its leadership is corrupt with power and making outrageous claims such as the HSUS is intent on ending animal agriculture, when in fact it has been instrumental in passing legislation to end some of the most appalling forms of farm animal cruelty.
Howmuchfish.com and mercuryfacts.org, two front groups that attempt to undermine the prevailing scientific position on the dangers of mercury in fish.
Sweetscam.com, a front group that claims to have the facts about high fructose corn syrup and attacks the scientific studies linking high fructose corn syrup to obesity.
The groups and individuals they attack are working to protect us from environmental devastation, toxic chemicals in our food supply, and such vices as driving under the influence, smoking, crime, obesity and other chronic diseases.
Rather than fight an honest and transparent fight against their opponents, Berman’s corporate clients cowardly hide behind his front groups and let them do their dirty work.
So who are Berman’s clients that he will not disclose to the press or the public? 60 Minutes claims to have obtained a list of some of the companies that fund him. Among them were the Coca-Cola Company, Tyson Foods, Outback Steakhouse, Wendy’s International, Inc., Brinker International (parent company of Chili’s and Macaroni Grill), and Arby’s.