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What Is the CCF & why is it attacking PETA
11 years ago

What Is the Center for Consumer Freedom,
and WRIck Berman on CNNhy Is It Attacking PETA?

The Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit corporation run by lobbyist Richard Berman through his Washington, D.C.-based for-profit public relations company, Berman & Co. The Center for Consumer Freedom, formerly known as the Guest Choice Network, was set up by Berman with a $600,000 “donation” from tobacco company Philip Morris.

Berman arranges for large sums of corporate money to find its way into nonprofit societies of which he is the executive director. He then hires his own company as a consultant to these nonprofit groups. Of the millions of dollars “donated” by Philip Morris between the years 1995 and 1998, 49 percent to 79 percent went directly to Berman or Berman & Co.

Richard Berman is an influence peddler. He has worked out a scheme to funnel charitable donations from wealthy corporations into his own pocket. In exchange, he provides a flurry of disinformation, flawed studies, op-ed pieces, letters to the editor, and trade-industry articles, as well as access to his high-level government contacts, who are servants of the industries he represents.

Berman’s name might sound familiar. In 1995, Berman and Norm Brinker, his former boss at Steak and Ale Restaurants, were identified as the special-interest lobbyists who donated the $25,000 that disgraced then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was hauled before the House Ethics Committee for influence-peddling over the money. Berman and Brinker were lobbying against raising the minimum wage.

Richard Berman is a spin doctor. For example, he has argued against a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) initiative to lower the blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for drivers by claiming that the stricter limits would punish responsible social drinkers. He has claimed that U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warnings about salmonella-related food poisoning are just “whipping up fear over food.”

Here’s how an internal Philip Morris memo described Berman’s spin: “His proposed solution would broaden the focus of the ‘smoking issue,’ and expand into the bigger picture of over-regulation.” Smoking won’t kill you; over-regulation will.

Berman is “a one-man wrecking crew on important issues.” His approach has been described as “misleading” and “despicable.”  Berman has been called “a tobacco company whore,” but he’s branched out since then.

Using “freedom of choice” as his battle cry, Berman has now taken on PETA and a number of other groups and organizations whose points of view could have an impact on the profits of his clients by waking consumers up. Berman’s Guest Choice Network has an “advisory panel” whose members in 1998 included officials representing companies ranging from Cargill Processed Meat Products and Outback Steakhouse to Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association and Sutter Home Winery. Berman’s clients are companies with vested interests in low employee wages; cheap, unhealthy restaurant-chain food, particularly meat; and tobacco, soft drink, and alcohol consumption—companies like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Armour Swift, and Philip Morris, whose product line includes Kraft Foods and everything from Marlboro cigarettes to Oscar Meyer wieners and which is a major shareholder in its former subsidiary Miller Brewing, now known as SABMiller.

PETA’s recent successes in gaining fast-food industry concessions for more humane conditions for farm animals have sent ripples of fear through the food and beverage service industry. About the same time that McDonald’s buckled to PETA’s demands, Richard Berman changed his front group’s name and stepped up his attacks.

The key to Berman’s aggressive strategy is, in his own words, “to shoot the messenger ... we’ve got to attack their credibility as spokespersons,”—an interesting remark from someone whose background and funding so severely challenge his own credibility.

10 years ago

Just more greed and money worshipping.

When is enough ENOUGH for these people?

I swear if they could produce a living lump of flesh and sell it as food, they would. They have no morality.

10 years ago



10 years ago

Yes, thanks John for this information.  Occasionally uninformed members post some 'news' from this org's website that is meant to alarm, confuse, stir up trouble, cause dissent among PETA members regarding some 'horrible' thing PETA is supposedly to have done.

I squash it fast.

the ethics of what we eat
10 years ago

anyone interested in this thread would love this book i am reading. Its called "The Ethics of what we eat" by Peter Singer, who is an Ethicist and also the author of Animal Factories among other marvellous books.

Just had to share!!

10 years ago

Sorry for the divergence into a book recommendation, i hope it wasn't offensive.

The CCF is most definitely offensive and a horrendously unethical organisation. Alot of groups attack PETA because PETA are more 'in your face' than most animal welfare groups. Perhaps thats why they are the biggest now. I think people are sick of being passive all the time. Animals are suffering needlessly every minute of every day and it hurts so much to know about it, to think about it, to care about it. My hurt makes me angry and my anger makes me align with PETA, like so many others who seem to be angry about these atrocities too.   


7 years ago

Thanks John for this profile of one of natures mistakes. The fact is that no individual or has power and influence unless it is given to them, and that is where the gullibility and plain stupidity of the mass of people becomes their medium for making money.from those with agendas. So the more exposure of streaks of excrement like him, the better.

7 years ago

Thanks, John, for the info.  This Berman person sounds typically like a greedy, unethical opportunist.  We need to get rid of creeps like this!

7 years ago

thanks for sharing. loser, loser, loser! do you honestly think you can discredit PETA? NOT!!!

6 years ago

Richard Berman and his ilk would sell their own mothers for medical experiments if the price was right.  PETA will always be under attack by those who value money more than their own souls.  Keep up the great work PETA!

CCF attacking PETA
5 years ago

You know that oganizations like PETA are doing their job when they are attacked by the scum-bag, monied interests.  I am not a religious man, but I truly hope there is a God because there has to be a special place in Hell for Richard Berman and his ilk.

5 years ago

He set up a web page called "Humane Watch", presenting it as a site dedicated to exposing PETA and the Humane Society as being harmful to animals. There were quotes (yeah, right) from people who claimed that PETA killed their animals. Reading the page, you quickly notice that there is no real discussion board and that there is no way to add a comment. The misinformation was appalling. It had Rick Berman's slimy fingerprints all over it. After a little research, sure enough, it turned out to be Berman. The man is scum. He will do anything, and hurt anyone for a buck. He needs to be sued for Libel.

5 years ago

Thank you for the information, John.

1 year ago

Thanks for sharing


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