Tactics

Berman SlideBerman’s non-profits attack the credibility of public interest groups and shift the terms of debate, either by changing the subject or muddling the facts, using a well-worn playbook that that he applies to virtually every one of his campaigns.

In 2002 testimony before a House committee, Berman described his “shoot the messenger” tactic as “a strategy to — to reposition people who have a pristine image which is undeserved … If that’s shooting the messenger, then I’m guilty of it.”

To accomplish this, Berman’s groups push their message to the media in op-eds and press releases, and run advertisements in high-profile venues, including major publications, the Super Bowl, and the Oscars. Berman views industry advocacy as an “endless war,” and this dire view frequently manifests itself in over-the-top derogatory comparisons. Berman and his staff have compared opponents to terrorists, dictators, segregationists, and criminals.

Berman and Co. campaigns frequently employ tactics that give their work a false veneer of popular support.

Berman’s non-profits often spam small newspapers with letters to the editor and op-eds weighing in on local issues. One community newspaper that published a letter to the editor from a Berman and Co. employee discovered nearly 90 other letters to the editor under the same employee’s name, many of which were almost identical. The Enterprise Freedom Action Committee has used state-based front groups to make their campaigns seem local, including Oregonians for Employee Freedom and Minnesotans for Employee Freedom, whose contact information directed back to the committee’s Washington, D.C. offices.

Berman groups frequently misrepresent scientific evidence and cite misleading statistics.

During his long fight against restaurant smoking bans, Berman misrepresented a World Health Organization study to claim that there was no link between secondhand smoking and lung cancer. In another instance, he also downplayed the health risks of a brand of pesticide, again misrepresenting scientific evidence. Experts and academics have repeatedly criticized and dismissed Berman’s claims.

Regulatory agencies have also chastised Berman’s campaigns.

In 2008, the Indoor Tanning Association hired Berman and Co. to help downplay the health risks of tanning beds and launched two websites, TrustTanning.com and SunlightScam.com, with Berman and Co.’s Sarah Longwell serving as media contact in press releases. In January 2010, the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against the ITA for making false claims, focusing its criticisms on the Berman-led campaign that the ITA launched in March 2008. Though Berman and Co. is not directly mentioned in the complaint, much of the false and misleading information cited by the FTC was found on the two websites.

Berman's Modus Operandi by CREW



quick facts

Experts: Nothing Charitable About Berman's Front Groups

Charity Navigator, an independent authority on charitable giving, has issued donor advisories against five Berman front groups:

The advisories note that, unlike most charities, Berman’s groups funnel significant amounts of their funds to a single company, Berman’s for-profit Berman and Company, Inc.

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quick facts

Experts: Nothing Charitable About Berman's Front Groups

Charity Navigator, an independent authority on charitable giving, has issued donor advisories against five Berman front groups:

The advisories note that, unlike most charities, Berman’s groups funnel significant amounts of their funds to a single company, Berman’s for-profit Berman and Company, Inc.