Jim Hightower on Smearing Environmentalists

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“Dr. Evil” turns out to be “Dr. Silly”

Friday, April 24, 2015   |   Jim Hightower

Imagine a political campaign against environmentalists that’s so negative, so ridiculously slanted and downright dirty, that it actually repulsed executives of some of America’s biggest fracking corporations.

Wow – it’s got to take a big wad of ugly to gag a fracker! But in the gross world of political rancor, few cough up hairballs as foul as those produced by Rick Berman. He specializes in taking secret funding from major corporations to publicly slime environmentalists, low-wage workers, and anyone else perceived by his corporate clients as enemies.

So last year, Berman was in Colorado Springs, at a meeting of Big Oil frackers about his down and dirty plan to smear and ridicule the grassroots enviros who’ve dared to oppose the fracking of Colorado’s land, water, people, and communities. Dubbing the campaign “Big Green Radicals,” the Berman team revealed that their PR firm had dug into the personal lives of Sierra Club board members, looking for tidbits to embarrass them. Gut it up, Berman cried out to the executives, “You can either win ugly or lose pretty.” The Little Generalissimo then urged them to pony up some $3 million for his assault, saying they should “think of this as an endless war,” adding pointedly, “and you have to budget for it.”

Unfortunately for the sleaze peddler, one appalled energy executive recorded his crude pitch and leaked it to the media. “That you have to play dirty to win,” the executive explained, “just left a bad taste in my mouth.” Even Anadarko, an aggressive fracking corporation with 13,000 fracked wells in the Rockies, publicly rejected Berman’s political play, telling the New York Times: “It does not align with our values.”

Berman likes to be called “Dr. Evil,” but he’s so coarse, strident, bombastic, and clownish that he’s become known as “Dr. Silly.”

“Hard-Nosed Advice From Veteran Lobbyist: ‘Win Ugly or Lose Pretty’,” www.nytimes.com, October 30, 2014.

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