It’s Halloween, so today I bring you tricks and treats.

The tricks come from the evil mind of one Rick Berman, whose presentation to a group of oil and gas industry executives pitching their investment in his advertising and public relations campaign called Big Green Radicals was recorded surreptitiously by one of those being pitched who found the tactics particularly offensive.

The anonymous taper then handed over  the tape and the documents handed out by Berman & Co to their would-be investors to the NY Times.

Our friend Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, wrote about it and whittled the hour-long presentation down to the Ten Commandments from the Dr. Evil playbook:


  1. Screw” your enemyBerman boasted about his obsession with unions and his attack on their efforts to raise the minimum wage for American workers: “I get up every morning and I try and figure out how to screw with the labor unions.”
  2. Marginalize” your opponents. Berman described his tactics against public interest groups: “wherever possible I like to use humor to minimize or marginalize the people on the other side.
  3. Demolish the moral authority of powerful public interest voices: “I got George McGovern to come out and say that unions were wrong. I represent some alcohol companies, I got Candy Lightner, who started Mothers Against Drunk Driving, to come out and say that MADD was overreaching and that she endorsed our position, our client position, rather than the MADD position. That is a demolishing of moral authority.
  4. Make it personal.” Berman’s associate Hubbard described how they go after concerned citizens who dare to challenge their clients: “we do have a section on every single activist. Their rap sheets, their criminal records they have. We’re really making this personal. We’re trying to make it so they don’t have any credibility with the public, with the media, or with the legislators.
  5. Brand” whole movements as “not credible. Berman & Co. detailed their game plan to try to marginalize people concerned about fracking, as noted by Bloomberg media: “what we wanted to do is that we wanted to brand the entire movement behind this as not being credible, and anti-science.”
  6. Being “nasty” wins. Berman shakes off concerns that his activities are too nasty or aggressive, saying “you can either win ugly or lose pretty.
  7. Push “fear and anger. Berman talked about pushing people’s emotional buttons on fear, love, anger, greed, and sympathy, stating: “you could not get into people’s heads and convince them to do something as easily as you could get into their hearts or into their gut to convince to do something. Because, emotions drive people much better than intellectual epiphanies.”
  8. Treat public policy as “endless war. Berman recognized that the public interest groups are appealing to the American people: “If you think about it these groups, the Sierra Club, who is the natural enemy of the Sierra Club? Who is the enemy of Greenpeace? You know at the surface, you would love to be a group like that because everyone should be in favor of you, who could be against you? That’s very difficult to over come and they play on that, and they trade on that, and that’s our opportunity and also our challenge. So it is an endless war.”
  9. Give corporate cash “total anonymity.Berman reassured his audience that he can keep their role in these tactics secret: “We run all of this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors. There is total anonymity. People don’t know who supports us. We’ve been doing this for 20 something years in this regard. And to the degree to anybody is concerned about that I will tell you there are all sorts of ways, all sorts of firewalls that have been established to get this done on an anonymous” basis. He added: “I am religious about not allowing company names to ever get used. At least I’m not going to allow them to get used. And I don’t want companies to ever admit that because it does give the other side a way to diminish our message.”
  10. Tear down celebrities who speak out. Berman’s associate Hubbard noted that taking down celebrities who speak up is a key part of their strategy because: “the problem is that the public really does have a celebrity worship culture. But the good news is that there is nothing the public likes more than tearing down celebrities and playing up the hypocrisy angle.”

– See more at: 

On Halloween, I liken it to pulling back the curtain around the evil wizard at the controls. Be forewarned!

Our treat today came courtesy of Joan Osborne. Each Friday morning, we segue into the weekend with musical treat from my radio archives. Today, we went back to May 16, 1995 for my first interview with Joan Osborne, who had just released her debut album, Relish. She visited the KSCA/ fm 101.9 studio in Los Angeles and performed live for us too.

I’ll be back Monday, election-eve, for one last edition of The Steve Israel Hour, sponsored by Little Debbie with Howie Klein, and Greg Palast who’ll tell us about his Al Jazeera expose on the GOP’s latest Jim Crow efforts via a gigantic voter purging database.  See you then, radio or not!