Stephen Colbert Interviews Rick "Dr. Evil" Berman From The Center For Consumer Freedom


Rick Berman is generally considered to be an astroturfing shill bag of the highest order, and there are whole websites dedicated to debunking his “Center For Consumer Freedom.”

60 minutes profiled him in a segment called “Meet Dr. Evil.” You could watch that, or you could watch Stephen Colbert. Yeah, we thought so. Enjoy.

[via CL&P]

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  1. jwissick says:

    Anyone who is willing to stand up against nut job groups like Peta and the like is OK in my book.

    He’s right. We are turning into a nanny state. Foie gras, transfats, and othter things are beign outlawed. I never asked for these things to be outlawed. I am an adult. If I want to eat this stuff I should be able to.

    What’s wrong for fighting to have a choice?

    You want to be a vegan? Fine. You can. But keep it out of my face. Don’t like hunting? Then don’t hunt. But don’t infringe on my right to hunt a deer, pig, turkey, goose, whatever.

  2. ratnerstar says:

    There are whole websites dedicated to debunking evolution, racial equality, and the fact that the sky is blue. I’m not a CFCF fan, but that’s a pretty lame criterion for judging something.

  3. Meg Marco says:

    @ratnerstar: I’m simply explaining who he is. Lighten up.

  4. strathmeyer says:

    @meghannmarco: Well, you haven’t offered a very good explanation. What is wrong with his “Center for Consumer Freedom”? What’s wrong with consumer freedom? Or does Rick Berman not promote it? What justifies your name calling?

  5. mantari says:

    He’s very coy. If he was more straightforward (example: funding), then I might take him for a serious consumer advocate. He looks like he’s pretending to be a consumer advocate when that’s not what he’s about.

  6. Will Clarke says:

    Yeah he’s obviously a corporate shill but fortunately, a corporate shill for the right corporations. It annoys me to no end that the government tries to take away our rights to eat fatty foods and drink and drive. Who the hell can’t drive with a 0.08 BAC? Maybe some anorexic ballerina, so the rest of America has to suffer. I’m glad there’s someone fighting for those rights, and even happier that I don’t have to pay for it out of my own pocket.

    I’m all for corporations having to display caloric information, even banning trans fat, but I’m 6’3″ and 140 lbs. If I want a Baconator or an Olive Garden pasta orgy plate, I should get it with a smile on the server’s face. Screw anyone that tries to take away that right.

  7. catcherintheeye says:

    @Will Clarke: “Olive Garden pasta orgy plate”

    Definitely made me laugh out loud

  8. DallasDMD says:

    Given total freedom, the masses will indulge themselves into oblivion (and we’re well on our way there now).

    While I don’t want someone to tell me that I can’t have the occasional pile of junk food, if nothing is done, we’ll inherit the consequences later on.

    I’d prefer the solution to be something in the form of education and decreased benefits for people who engage in self-destructive behaviors.

  9. cde says:

    @Will Clarke: Eating fatass foods != driving under the influence. Yes, all this nanny state stuff like making transfats illegal or making smoking all but illegal to do outside of your home is bullshit, but stuff like that only affects you. Driving with alcohol in your system has a chance of you killing/maiming/or otherwise hurting other people. You should be able to do it unless others get hurt. (And no, smoking should not be banned, because you have a goddamn choice. Don’t like smoking, don’t work in a place likely to allow people to smoke)

  10. reykjavik says:

    @Will Clarke:
    6’3″ and a 140 pounds?!?! Do you have a vagina as well?

  11. morsteen says:

    yeah the only thing about the “self-destructive” behavior of drinking and driving is that it is not only affecting you. There is a huge huge chance it will affect someone minding their own business, and that is just wrong. So yeah you shouldn’t be able to do shit that will 9 times out of 10 result in something bad for someone else who doesn’t even f*cking know you! As for smoking yeah go ahead and fuck yourself up everyone has that right, but it is also wrong to blow it in someone’s face. We need to stop being sissy and have rights, but at the same time we need to not blatantly infringe on other people’s rights to NOT have that shit close to them or affect their lives. It’s a fine line of compromise but it must be drawn, because I know for sure I don’t want your smoke everywhere I have a right to go too, and I sure as hell don’t want your stupid drunk ass swerving to head on me as i drive home.

  12. Will Clarke says:

    @cde: I’ve been drinking and driving for 5 years, no tickets, accidents, or even getting pulled over. I know my limits, and when I’ve had too much to drink I take a cab. It’s EXACTLY the same thing – the government telling me when it’s enough. I know when is enough, and it sure isn’t 0.08. I drink a lot – I’m good at it.

    I was hit and almost killed by a drunk driver a few years ago (while completely sober). His crime wasn’t his level of drunkenness, it was the fact that he didn’t know his limits, and wasn’t paying attention. I’m saying the crime occur when you actually infringe on someone else’s rights, not at some arbitrary government imposed limit.

    Why 0.08? Why not 0.05? 0.01 (like in D.C.)? It’s arbitrary and unnecessary. If you’re driving erratically, you get pulled over. If you hit someone, you get your ass thrown in jail (and sued, like the guy that hit me). But not before.

  13. Will Clarke says:

    @reykjavik: I wish, I could entertain myself to no end :)

  14. mconfoy says:

    @Will Clarke: I doubt anyone will real take away your right to be a glutton, pig, whatever embarrassing behavior you want to engage in. Go for it dude. If you don’t worry about what your obituary says now, when will you? Freedom is what its all about.

  15. mconfoy says:

    @Will Clarke: Dude, party on. This is the kind of stuff one wants to be remembered for. If you ever manage to have children, they will love hearing about this kind of thing. Rock on.

  16. nonzenze says:

    @MEG:

    While Berman might be somewhat disingenuous labeling himself a consumer advocate, it’s still true that in most cases consumer and corporate interests are aligned. They want to sell us stuff, we want buy stuff.

    This site does good work exposing the various pitfalls of the relationship: incomplete information, failure to abide by agreements, misrepresentation of the relevant facts, etc. This does not mean that being a consumer is only those negative aspects — try to keep that in mind when Berman stands up for the vast majority of honest companies that are trying to make a honest buck.

    @CDE:

    “Driving has a chance of you killing/maiming/or otherwise hurting other people.”

    There, fixed it for you.

  17. nonzenze says:

    Also, if you want great foie gras in Chicagoland, try Froggy’s in Highwood (up in Lake County by Ravinia).

  18. BigNutty says:

    Will Clark, please tell us all where you live so we can make sure we are not out when you are professionally drinking. Ever hear of AA?

  19. bluewyvern says:

    There is one big flaw to the “it’s my body, I’ll do what I want with it” argument that it seems is rarely considered: what will happen once you’ve done what you want and are sick, disabled, maimed, insane, or otherwise damaged by your actions? Will you go off into the wilderness and suffer and die in isolation? Or will you expect society to shoulder the consequences of your choices and care for you? The “it’s my body” argument only works if by choosing high-risk behaviors you also waive your rights to society’s benefits. Trans fats and other food-related health scares of the week lead to widespread obesity which leads to diabetes, heart disease, and all kinds of other problems, which put a burden on medical services and collectively drive up taxes, medical expenses, and health insurance rates for everyone. Even the drunk driver who doesn’t hit anyone else but only crashes himself into a tree causes the tables to be recalculated and raises everyone else’s insurance rates.

    Strict regulatory policies are only society’s way of saying, “this is the acceptable level of risky behavior we have collectively decided is appropriate if you’re going to receive the benefits of society. If you don’t maintain this minimum standard of care for your body, you are cheating the system.”

    Maybe you don’t agree with where the risk level has been set (in theory, at least, new regulatory legislation will reflect a popular mandate), but you can’t claim that what you do doesn’t affect everyone else.

    No man is an island. The bell tolls for *everyone*. The only alternative is off the grid and back to the caves.

  20. darkclawsofchaos says:

    Colbert points ut the flaws of his argument pretty well

  21. JustAGuy2 says:

    @bluewyvern:

    Helmet laws for motorcyclists and seatbelt laws for motorists are a great example. We should offer anyone who doesn’t want to wear a helmet or a seatbelt the right to sign a waiver saying “I’m not going to wear a helmet/seatbelt – if I’m in an accident, I waive any expectation of medical assistance – leave me by the side of the road to die.”

  22. darious says:

    @bluewyvern:
    Bull.
    Strict regulatory policies are peoples way of saying “Hey, I don’t like this and I’ll use the law to force my opinion on everyone.”

    Since it is no longer as easy as it once was to get unpopular and intrusive legislation passed by claiming that it is designed to “protect children”, insurance costs have become the latest shield for the busybodies who think they can manage my life better than I can.

  23. Steel_Pelican says:

    @darious: Who pays your disability and social security after you take a trip through your windshield? The rest of us. If you want to skip the seatbelt because you’re a tough guy, be my guest. But the only way for your pseudo-libertarian philosophy is going to work in that regard is if you refuse ANY governmental assistance in the aftermath.

  24. zumdish says:

    I remember back when seatbelt laws were first enacted. I railed against them, and when presented with the public healthcare burden I made the slippery slope argument of “Keep that up and before you know it the government will be telling you that you can’t eat fatty foods!”

    Everyone I debated accused me engaging in reductio ad absurdum. Not so much now, eh?

    Everybody out of the handbasket – we’re here!!

  25. ironchef says:

    nothing like a con man leading the masses into the drinking the corporate koolaid.

  26. descend says:

    @bluewyvern:

    Well put.

  27. Steel_Pelican says:

    @ironchef: Exactly.
    “Don’t let advocacy groups tell you what’s good for you! ……unless it’s my advocacy group, that is.”

  28. toiletduck says:

    Maybe I’m just a huge nerd but when I read Rick “Dr. Evil” Berman I couldn’t help but think about the man who killed Star Trek.

  29. bohemian says:

    This guy takes on one or two hot button nanny state issue to try to get people to think he is on their side, they guy is a corporate shill.

    Sure he dislikes MADD and transfat bans but I bet he also thinks the CPSC is equally intrusive and needs to go away.

  30. mac-phisto says:

    i saw this episode & thought dr. evil made some good points.

    the problem is that our government is becoming more & more like our media – impulsive & sensationalist. nobody even knew what “trans fat” was until 4 years ago – now every municipality in america has some sort of legislation looking to ban it.

    man, wtf have we done? sold washington to lobbyists & special interest, that’s what i think.

    as a child of the 80’s, i can relate the power of “soft legislation” something we once called EDUCATION (edjumawhatnow?). i used to remind my parents to “buckle up”, i said no to drugs b/c they turn your brain into an egg, & mcgruff taught me how to spot dangerous situations.

    now what is it? “click it or ticket?” & i forget the commercial they run for DUI, but it’s pretty similar. wow. we’ve really taken a turn here. it’s no longer about personal safety, it’s about stigmatizing people as criminals.

    the problem with that approach is that it only works on a very basic rational level. it doesn’t require a subject to think about or learn safe behavior. & once a subject begins to think about it, they approach it entirely from that perspective. it’s no longer a question of “is this good for me?”, it’s “will i get caught?”

  31. Beerad says:

    @mac-phisto: Unfortunately, history has shown that promoting thoughtful contemplation of issues like “is this good for me” doesn’t really work to promote good societal behavior. “Will I get caught,” on the other hand, does. I agree that it would be great if everyone didn’t do things that negatively impacted the rest of us because it’s the “right” thing to do (e.g., don’t drive drunk; don’t serve me food chock full of artificial, industrially-created chemicals; don’t muck up my nice clean breathing air with your cigarette smoke). But as numerous above posters prove, lots of people are just too selfish to actually consider that maybe their right to do whatever they want doesn’t trump everyone else’s rights in every single situation.

  32. Invisobel says:

    Doesn’t Rick Berman also produce the Star Trek Series? :)

  33. girly says:

    How does choosing to ride a motorcycle or skydive correlate to being exposed to second-hand smoke (which you don’t choose)?

  34. AmandaNC says:

    @Invisobel: I totally thought that was who this guy was too!! *This* Rick Berman is way less fun.

  35. Will Clarke says:

    @BigNutty: Drinking on the weekends does not make me an alcoholic. Wow, there’s a lot of judgmental pricks here.

  36. mac-phisto says:

    @Beerad: i don’t see how history has shown anything of the sort. typically, when a government starts turning their average citizen into an average criminal, that’s right about the time the average citizen chooses to depose their current government.

    you can’t legislate personal accountability, but you can teach it.

    i think it’s simply a question of, do we want to spend money teaching people how to live a healthy lifestyle, or do we want to spend money enforcing laws that prevent them from the alternative?

    i can assure you that the success ratio of the former is higher than the success ratio of the later.

  37. spevman says:

    @Invisobel:

    Re: Rick Berman (Star Trek producer) – same name, different guy.

  38. ideagirl says:

    @reykjavik: HA! Coffee came out my nose!

  39. Celeste says:

    And this is why I’m so opposed to socialized medicine. It’s already bad enough I have to deal with this stuff from insurance companies, but I have the choice to take my business elsewhere or go *gasp* uninsured. Once the government is paying for all of our health costs, the government will be taking a much more active role in telling us what to do. And I, for one, would prefer to make those decisions myself.

  40. I was hoping someone would chime in with one of those fun “America – love it or leave it” arguments. Those always win a fight over what kind of country we should live in, right?

    Thankfully, this place isn’t full of “judgmental pricks” – just a fun commenting session full of passionate, opinionated people.

    Consumerist.com – love it or leave it! :-)

  41. mac-phisto says:

    @Celeste: i agree with that comment, but i do think that the government needs to mandate open enrollment & group bargaining for health insurance. our choices need to be better than a) crappy insurance b/c of employer’s choice of insurer, b) get a different job with better insurance, c) pay out the nose for better insurance, or d) $50,000 hospital bill for a cat scan.

  42. nonzenze says:

    @BEERAD

    It’s your responsibility to determine whether or not a particular food product meets your nutritional standards*. It is furthermore your responsibility to exclude yourself from people smoking indoors** and any of the other myriad risks that you find unacceptable.

    Why anyone else should have to worry about your responsibilities is truly beyond me.

    *Of course the gov’t should ensure that the company honestly represents the content of their products.

    **There is, as yet, no proof (and no reason to think) that second hand smoke in non-confined areas has a significant impact. All the studies on second hand smoke were of servers/flight attendants .

    PPS. Maybe you need one of these [tinyurl.com]

  43. girly says:

    Wouldn’t it be more of the indoor smoker’s responsibility to contain the smoke they release?

  44. Celeste says:

    @mac-phisto: oh yeah, I would never say our current system of health care is good, I just think that a system where the government is paying for everything – and therefore gets to decide what actually deserves to be paid for – will be even worse.

  45. cde says:

    @Will Clarke: There is a good reason for those arbitrary BAC levels, and thats enforcement. You may know what your tolerance is, and there may be a good and mostly accurate weight/bmi to intake BAC convertor, but how easy would it be to make the streets safe from drunk driving with that? Others driving drunk may not know their limit. Psychological, emotional and stress effects change the rate of intoxication, so you may be good when you get in the car, but what about 10 minutes later? What if you or someone else miss judges how drunk they really are (And as someone who no doubtly has gotten drunk atleast once in their life, you know that someone drunk always says “I’m not that drunk”). But more so, how can someone objectively decide if your sober enough, especially with a sliding scale? The entire point is to prevent an accident before it happens, not punish them after it happens.

  46. cde says:

    Oh, and yes, some are arbitrary, considering alcohol is legal, like dc’s .01.

  47. brodiec says:

    @celeste: As a citizen of the UK and Canada I can say that it works pretty well. There are wait times for some things. But if you are ill you get treated and you don’t get a bill. In unfortunate cases very sick people aren’t treated in time. Which is bad, but they don’t die at home because they can’t afford to get treatment.

    I think there’s such a thing as a good nanny and a bad nanny state. A bad nanny tells us what to do, eat, say and when to do it. A good nanny allows us to make mistakes, learn from them and grow. To be human beings. There IS a moderate approach here.

  48. karmaghost says:

    @Will Clarke: 6′ 3″ and 140lbs.? You, my friend, are an anorexic ballerina.

    Also, if people were aware of their limits when it came to drinking, followed subsequently by driving, DUI’s and the accidents caused by them wouldn’t be as much of a problem.