Secret recording of corporate lobbyist is a dirty-tricks playbook

Richard Berman — called "Dr Evil" by both friends and enemies — laid out the dirty tricks (PDF) needed to defeat environmental groups and labor activists to a Western Energy Alliance summit, and was so grossly offensive that one exec recorded him and leaked a transcript.

Berman's previous projects include the Center for Consumer Freedom (pro-smoking), The Center for Union Facts (anti-labor), and The Employment Policies Institute (anti-minimum-wage).

His tactics are straight out of Paolo Bacigalupi's The Doubt Factory — create fake expert groups to sow doubt and chaff the scientific and economic facts with unsourced, alarmist truthiness. He boasted of being able to launder the money energy companies and other big corporations give him by channeling it through non-profit front organizations, which would seem to be independent, neutral parties.

Zach Lipton's Metafilter post rounds up some of the most telling soundbites:

We're reframing this debate so it's not just about going up to $10.10 [the minimum wage], there's some other things that people need to think about.

You want to get people to say, one of my north stars is to get people to say, "You know, I never thought of it that way before."

Because, if you can get people to say that, here's what you get: instead of getting the 'he said, she said debate,' what you will get with the factual debate, often times, you're going to get into people get overwhelmed by the science and 'I don't know who to believe.' But, if you get enough on your side you get people into a position of pralysis about the issue.

We're not experts and so you don't want them trying to be experts. But if you put enough information out there and say, "Well, it could go to $10.10 but ou could also lose a lot of jobs, the Congressional Budget Office says you can lose a lot of jobs." And again, we got a lot of ads on this thing.

You get in people's minds a tie. They don't know who is right. And you get all ties because the tie basically ensures the status quo.

People are not prepared to get aggressive and in moving one way or another. I'll take a tie any day if I'm trying to preserve the status quo.

Hard-Nosed Advice From Veteran Lobbyist: 'Win Ugly or Lose Pretty' [Eric Lipton/NYT]

(via Metafilter)

(Image: JJ/Gustavb/ Dbenbenn, CC-BY-SA)