Well, well, our friend Richard Berman is back in the news, this time for offending one of the oil industry executives he was pitching enough that the man recorded his talk and sent it over to the New York Times for publication.
Berman was full of his usual hate and vinegar, too, but he may have given out just a little too much information.
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.”
So much for all that altruistic talk about how 501c4 organizations are just patriotic, free-speech machines, eh?
Berman also hates unions more than Satan himself.
“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.
Our friends over at Eclectablog had a few words to say about Berman's recent efforts to smear AFT President Randi Weingarten in a Detroit op-ed:
So, why is Berman, a guy who doesn’t even live in Michigan, exploiting the horrible situation in Detroit schools as a way of attacking Weingarten, AFT, and teachers unions, in general? Because that is what he does. Berman is a professional shill, a corporatist profiteer who has made a lucrative career out of going on the attack to protect corporate interests.
Are suggestions that pregnant women eat a limited amount of fish due to mercury contamination hurting sales of your fish? Berman is there withwww.fishscam.com to convince the public that mercury in fish poisoning the fetuses of pregnant women is no problem.
Are taxes on alcohol cutting into your company’s sales? Berman is there with www.nodrinktax.com to fight to eliminate taxes on alcohol.
In fact, there seems to be no limit to how low Berman will go to make a buck from corporations trying to increase profits and deflect any sort of criticism. At the end of The Detroit News piece, Berman is described as “executive director at the Center for Union Facts”. But the Center for Union Facts is just one of dozens of groups that Berman has created for the sole purpose of shilling for corporate interests. Here is a partial list of the groups that Berman has headed up, courtesy of the Center for Media and Democracy:
It's not the first time he's gone after Weingarten, either. In 2012 he teamed up with billionaires to paint her as someone who 'protects bad teachers', a theme we've heard from Campbell Brown and the billionaires who litigated the Vergara case here in California. Because if you're a teacher, you shouldn't get due process or something.
In the transcript of his speech, Berman described what he does as 'reframing' with this goal:
You get in people's mind a tie. They don't know who is right. And you get all ties because a tie basically insures the status quo.
People are not prepared to get aggressive and in moving one way or another. I'll take a tie any day if I'm trying to preserve the status quo.
That was said right after he discussed how he used his "reframing techniques" to try and kill the Affordable Care Act. Had people not been ready for change, we would still have the status quo.
My bottom line here is that he can play Goebbels and use his mind control techniques on us, but he damn well ought to be forced to disclose who is paying for it. The most galling part of that whole speech was the part where he bragged about burying donors under layers of taxpayer-funded nonprofits.
We all deserve better than that.