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Friday, October 31, 2014

The other endless war to destroy the planet

by digby

Golly, who could have guessed that an energy lobbyist is a dishonest piece of offal?

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.

He went on to call it "an endless war" that needed to be paid for.

But he went too far, even for some in this crowd:

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 doubt this will stop him. Unless the energy executive is able to persuade his friends that this is the wrong thing to do, I suspect they'll just do it anyway.

Still, it's interesting that at least one member of this group of energy executives was repelled by this cynical approach. That's more than most of Washington apparently since the New York Times went on to blithely point this out as if it's old news:

Mr. Berman is well known in Washington for his technique of creating nonprofit groups like the Center for Consumer Freedom that secretly collect corporate donations to finance the aggressive, often satirical media campaigns his team conceives. They are intended to undermine his opponents, like labor unions or animal rights groups that have tried to spotlight the treatment of animals at meatpacking plants...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.

I guess "Washington" thinks that's perfectly fine. And it would be nice if this article "brings new scrutiny" but perhaps the news media could report this stuff without having a sexy recording as a hook. They certainly seemed to know about it before. If we can't keep money out of politics the least the press can do is shine a light on what it's buying.