Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft AstroTurf May be Linked to the Notorious "Dr. Evil" (Richard Berman) or Grassroots Enterprise

If the devil had a face, it would look like this:

Rick Berman

Summary: King of AstroTurf against human kind is mentioned in relation to Microsoft's anti-Google AstroTurf, but a direct relationship has not yet been shown

LAST year we wrote about Richard Berman, who is not only an AstroTurfing superstar but also a man who sets up fake "charities" to advance corporate interests (like the Gates Foundation).

A few days ago we wrote about Microsoft's latest hype around Office and how Google harms this top cash cow of Microsoft (Microsoft is clearly going the wrong way as lawsuits pile up). Dana Blankenhorn wrote about the subject and later on he mentioned Consumer Watchdog, the anti-Google AstroTurfer [1, 2, 3].

Blankenhorn argued:

[S]ome of it is as grassrooty as Richard Armey’s FreedomWorks, or the many “public campaigns” engaged in by Richard Berman on behalf of corporate clients. Some of the Google hate is Astroturf.

I’ve mentioned one of the Astroturfers here many times. Scott Cleland has made a career of shilling for Bell company causes. Taking down Google means his Bell friends face less competition. It’s embarrassing for a monopoly to be worth less than a start-up.


Take John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog. Less than a year after rebranding himself from the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, the former newspaper editor launched his anti-Google jihad.

His biggest headline so far is a call for Google to be broken up, a call that gained traction after it was revealed Google was caching data from WiFi hotspots, and agreed to cut its data retention policy on IP searches to nine months.

"Consumer Watchdog" appears quite clearly to be tied to Grassroots Enterprise, which is clearly AstroTurfing (note the Orwellian language). "Beware Corporate Wolves In Consumer Watchdog Clothing," says the headline of this 2007 article about such front groups.

We already know for a fact that Microsoft hired Lawmedia to unleash anti-Google AstroTurfers. Microsoft has always loved AstroTurfing and Bill Gates seems like a fan of the practice based on Comes vs Microsoft exhibits where he refers to it as "evangelization".

"Where are we on this Jihad?"

--Bill Gates

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