Secretly Recorded Lobbyist: I'm in 'Endless War'

Richard Berman tells execs to 'win ugly or lose pretty'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2014 6:40 PM CST

(Newser) – If Richard Berman likes keeping his tactics from the press, he won't like this. The corporate lobbyist was secretly recorded at a June event telling company executives how he "play[s] dirty" by publicizing embarrassing factoids about liberal celebrities and green activists, the New York Times reports via AllGov. As CEO and founder of Berman & Company, Berman solicits millions of dollars from companies to create ad campaigns that support their work, like fracking. Along the way, he says, it's vital to exploit feelings like anger, greed, and fear in opposing environmentalists. "Think of this as an endless war," he explains at the Colorado Springs event for energy executives. "And you have to budget for it." (Huffington Post quotes his preferred tactics, including being "nasty," branding movements as "not credible," and "making this personal.")

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"If you want a video to go viral, have kids or animals," he says. "Use humor to minimize or marginalize the people on the other side." He also advises executives not to worry about publicity because "we run all of this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors. ... People don't know who supports us." An energy-industry executive recorded Berman's talk and took it to the Times because he was offended by the "play dirty" approach: "It just left a bad taste in my mouth," he says. But Berman may not mind: His company's campaigns (like Big Green Radicals) have offended people before. "They characterize us in a campaign as being the guys with the black helicopters," Berman says. "And to some degree, that's true. We're doing stuff to diminish the other sides' ability to operate." (See his full talk here.)

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