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Rick Berman’s Sweet Scam

Richard Berman, or Rick Berman, the public affairs consultant and lobbyist 60 Minutes named “Dr. Evil” has a new, very sweet campaign.

On behalf of the food industry, the 30 person firm Berman and Company put together an ad and internet campaign under the guise of his Center for Consumer Freedom non-profit on behalf of the food industry called Sweet Scam (see ad above). Its purpose is to show consumers (and media) that “Big Sugar” is spinning lies about the “little guy”: high-fructose corn syrup.

The ad got the National Honey Board a rare piece of publicity:

“My curiosity is why big powerful high fructose corn syrup is going after a sweetener that accounts for only 1.5 percent of consumption,” (Bruce) Wolk said. “If it helps our market share, we are all for it.”

Unlike much of the bare knuckle work chronicled by PRWatch, Berman is both upfront and unabashedly proud of his work hacking at the chair legs of everything from the UAW, teachers’ unions, MADD and more recently, Acorn. His “debunking” campaigns audaciously go after irrefutables like automotive interlock technology (to prevent drunks from driving), and the dangers of tanning beds.

Berman embraces his Machiavellian role. The 60 Minutes profile is in the same position on his agency’s site, and his YouTube page as it is on BermanExposed.org.

The reason these efforts work at all is because they directly tap in to small government libertarians, as well the media seeking a counterbalance to memes popularized by best-selling authors like Michael Pollan.

Berman issued a press release about SweetScam.com last night. I’d hazard to guess that Berman’s messages will get more traction than the Corn Refiners Association’s SweetSurprise.com.

His tactics have also put him in Rachel Maddow’s crosshairs. See the clip after the jump where she explains his role in the Acorn dogpile, with some of the 60 Minutes footage spliced in:


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