by Deepak Gupta
Judging by the name alone, you might think that the Center for Consumer Freedom is an independent organization that advocates for consumers' rights to make informed choices in the marketplace. But consumer choice and consumer rights are pretty malleable concepts. As my favorite prankster faux-conservative Stephen Colbert revealed in a recent segment (below), CCF is an industry front group; its way of defending "consumers' rights" is to lobby aggressively for the interests of the industries that fund its public-relations campaigns. Here's Colbert with Rick Berman, the lawyer-lobbyist behind CCF:
Colbert: What do you do for the Center for Consumer Freedom?
Berman: I defend consumers' rights.
Colbert: So do consumers come to you and say, "Defend my rights"?
Berman: No, I figure out what's wrong with people's rights, and I -
Colbert: But who comes to you and says, "Here, here, defend our rights"?
Berman: I get up in the morning and I see crazy stuff and I say, "We gotta do something about that."
Colbert: Who's paying you?
Berman: Ah . . . lot's of people.
Berman: Ah, actually consumers; actually businesses, and then of course -
Colbert: Businesses whose consumers are being denied the freedom to use their product?
In reality, CCF is an astroturf group for the fast food and alcoholic beverage industries and its goal is to block policy initiatives aimed at very real problems, such as America's growing obesity epidemic and drunk driving. CCF also sponsors a project (called ActivistCash) that attacks a wide range of philanthropic foundations and public interest organizations whose activities threaten its funders' interests--even the Sierra Club and Mothers Against Drunk Driving aren't safe from Berman's attacks.[via American Rights at Work]