Friday, March 12, 2010

Just Another Phony Rick Berman Astroturf Front Group


On a whim I did a Google news search for Berman & Co. employee David Martosko. Looks like the media is still getting pwned by Berman's tricks. Martosko is now masquerading as some kind of beef and dairy industry expert in an effort to discredit the Humane Society of the United States.

For what it's worth, Wikipedia says the phony front group Center for Consumer Freedom was founded with money from Berman client Philip Morris.


The “Committee To Rethink Reform” is running TV ads in Tennessee full of scary lightning bolts and trillion-bazillion dollar figures pulled out of some Heritage Foundation flunky’s ass claiming we’ll all be doooooooomed if healthcare reform passes.

It’s typical fear propaganda, but they’re telling people to call Lincoln Davis so I thought I’d find out who this “Committee To Rethink Reform” is. Turns out it’s the same group that ran scary ads in the New York Times last December telling senior citizens that if healthcare reform passes, they’d have to walk 71 miles in the desert with a character out of Ben Hur snapping a whip in the air to get to the nearest doctor.

Well, something along those lines.

So who is the “Committee To Rethink Reform”? Apparently it’s another creation of conservative lobbyist/corporate flack Rick Berman. Remember him? He’s the guy dubbed “Dr. Evil” for setting up phony “non-profit” front groups to peddle corporate lies. Among his greatest hits: hiring actors at $30 an hour to pretend to be anti-debt “protestors,” and running full page ads in the New York Times linking the Humane Society to terrorists.

Berman & Co. uses the Rethink Reform campaign as one of its case studies on its company website. Berman never reveals where his funding comes from, but if I were to take a guess I'd be looking at AHIP and PhRMA for this campaign. Just a guess.

In 2009 CREW launched a website “ripping the cloak of secrecy” away from Rick Berman’s phony campaigns, called It's pretty shocking what a sleazebag this guy is. Lies and deceptions are his stock in trade.

Here I learned that Rick Berman’s employees pose as policy experts to get op-eds published in newspapers around the country:
Berman and Company’s public relations professionals, posing as policy experts, have landed pieces in the opinion pages of newspapers throughout the country. Unfortunately, most of these news outlets fail to sufficiently vet and identify these hired guns.

For example, David Martosko, a Berman employee, who is frequently cited as a scientific expert, received his graduate degree in opera from the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University.

In Mr. Martosko’s efforts to discredit the National Cancer Institute’s findings on red meat consumption and increased mortality, he spearheaded a letter-writing campaign publishing his opinions in papers including the Sacramento Bee and the Athens Banner-Herald. Mr. Martosko was not identified as a Berman and Company employee, but rather as “Director of Research for the Center for Consumer Freedom.”

Tim Miller, another Berman hire, has also been identified in his letters and op-eds by his association to the company’s front groups. For example, Mr. Miller opined in response to an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that his “organization,” the Center for Consumer Freedom, was in opposition to the Payday Loan Reform Act to counter “antiloan activist rhetoric” and went on to rehash the newest slogans from the Center’s latest payday loan ad campaign. In addition, Berman's Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy is behind a pro-payday loan site masquerading as a 'financial education' site.

Mr, Miller’s real job is the director of communications for Berman and Company and his listed positions include a number of its affiliated front groups: the Center for Consumer Freedom, the Center for Union Facts, the Employment Policy Institute, the Employees Freedom Action Committee, the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy, the American Beverage Institute, and Activist Cash. Mr. Miller has served as the communications coordinator for Sen. John McCain’s Iowa caucus campaign. Before that, he was the communications director for Jeff Lamberti’s failed 2006 congressional campaign in Iowa’s 3rd district, the political director for Bill Dix’s failed 2006 congressional campaign in Iowa’s 1st district, the field director for Jerry Kilgore’s failed 2005 campaign for Governor of Virginia, and as a travel aide for Bill Lee’s failed 2004 campaign for Governor of Delaware.

Well isn’t that special. Now that Rick Berman’s latest phony front group is targeting Lincoln Davis, I wonder how long before we read a Berman employee’s op-ed in the Tennessean?

You know, if you have to misrepresent who you are to such an outrageous degree, perhaps that should tell you something about your position. Just sayin'.

Anyway, just thought I’d let folks know who the “Committee To Rethink Reform” is. Just another phony front group spouting the corporate line. I know y’all are shocked.