Shortly after my interview with Wayne Pacelle appeared, I received an email message from Allison Miller, Senior Media associate for the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). She wrote, “I read your 5 minutes piece with Wayne Pacelle today. I was hoping you might be interested in speaking with Rick Berman, the Center for Consumer Freedom’s Executive Director. There were several charges unfairly leveled against our organization and Rick personally by Pacelle. Rick would like the chance to set the record straight for your readers and directly respond to Pacelle’s false statements.
Rick Berman Mr. Pacelle did indeed say some harsh things about CCF and Mr. Berman. To fully understand the reasons behind Miller’s request, click here to read my interview with Mr. Pacelle.
The Center for Consumer Freedom is an interesting non-profit organization. To understand it, here is some background information, courtesy of Wikipedia: “The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), formerly the Guest Choice Network, is an American non-profit firm that lobbies on behalf of the fast food, meat, alcohol and tobacco industries. It describes itself as "dedicated to protecting consumer choices and promoting common sense," and defending "the right of adults and parents to choose how they live their lives, what they eat and drink, how they manage their finances, and how they enjoy themselves.
“CCF was set up in 1995 by Richard Berman, executive director of the public affairs firm Berman and Company, with $600,000 from the Philip Morris tobacco company to fight smoking curbs in restaurants. Berman told The Washington Post that CCF is now funded by a coalition of restaurant and food companies as well as some individuals; according to the group's website it is supported by over 100 companies and thousands of individual consumers. Sponsors are reported to include Brinker International, RTM Restaurant Group (the owner of Arby's), Tyson Foods, HMS Host Corp, and Wendy's.”
In the interest of fairness, I thought it was important to offer Berman equal time and we conducted the interview using the same format. I emailed the questions to him and I’m reproducing his answers exactly as he wrote them. No editing on my part. I’ll leave the decision about the validity of any statement made by Pacelle or Berman up to you.
I encourage you to read both interviews carefully and then leave your comments at the end of either column.
Q. A few weeks ago, I interviewed Wayne Pacelle and one of the major issues we discussed was a HumaneWatch news release about some alleged discrepancies in the HSUS tax return. He dismissed HumaneWatch as a project of the “discredited Center for Consumer Freedom,” stating the Washington Post and USA Today had called you out as a shill for industry groups and 60 Minutes had called you ‘Dr. Evil.’