Team Assignment #2 The Insider

Hi Team 15, good job overall but I don’t see any images. If you send them to me in a word document I can include them in your grade. Good persuasive argument and good writing style. You covered the material very well. Good points made throughout!

1. The mainstream media often face enormous challenges in trying to give audiences an accurate picture of the world. For individual journalists, there are extraordinary pressures and obstacles to getting at the truth and telling the stories audiences want and need.

You may select Jeffrey Wigand, 60 Minutes host Mike Wallace, producer Lowell Bergman, executive producer Don Hewitt, the Wall Street Journal editor who helped stop the smear or the NY Times reporter who exposed the inside story on how CBS handled the Wigand affair.

All of these people had significant personal and institutional pressures, some more than others. Please do not select your character because you believe everyone will write about that person. No team can analyze this case the same as someone else unless they cheat.

Your essay should focus on how the principles and values of concealment and revelation apply to the tobacco case or the case at CBS News. 500 words. (Lauren & Carlos)

Jeffrey Wigan faced numerous amounts of pressure in his attempt to morally inform the public about the addictive properties along with the harmful effects of tobacco products sold by tobacco companies. Throughout the film, “The Insider” principles and values of concealment and revelation could easily be applied in the Tobacco Case. Even though Wigand had signed a contract with the tobacco company Brown & Williamson, he was unable to speak about anything he knew about the company by law. He continued to ponder the idea of speaking out about what “Big Tobacco” wanted to be kept a secret. The following questions are crucial when analyzing how the principles and values of concealment and revelation apply to the case: why was it so important for the company to make Wigand keep quiet?  Why was secrecy necessary? And most importantly, what are the consequences of Wigand’s desire to expose “Big Tobacco’s” secrets to the public?

            A Whistle Blower’s Job is not synonymous to a leaker. A leaker is classified as the anonymous source for unauthorized disclosure of any information.  A whistleblower makes a public interest disclosure and may be either anonymous or public. In the film, “The Insider, Wigand was a whistleblower whose mission was to inform the public on “Big Tobacco’s” secret information on the addiction to nicotine. It was important for the company to keep Wigand quiet because they knew that their reputation would be tarnished once the public knew the truth. Wigand (who was an executive before he was fired), knew the companies’ CEOs lied in front of Congress. In the Tobacco case, they denied nicotine being addictive and harmful for consumers and wanted to conceal the fact that their cigarettes go through a process called “boosting” which is the manipulation and enhancing of nicotine.  The secrecy was necessary due to the company’s image being at stake.

    Just like in the tobacco case, many whistleblowers face obstacles and pressures when wanting to reveal the truth to the public. For instance, Wigand suffered many consequences when working to expose “Big Tobacco’s” secrets.  Prior to his 60 Minutes interview, he received a death threat aimed to him and his family from “Big Tobacco” as well as having his reputation tarnished. According to Karen Higginbottom’s article, “The Price of Being A Whistleblower”, whistleblowers often suffer with their mental health due to the consequences of revealing secret information to the public.

In conclusion, the principles values of concealment and revelation apply to the tobacco case. Wigand, who was a whistleblower on exposing “Big Tobacco’s” secret, faced enormous amounts of pressure when bringing the truth to the public all the while he faced serious retaliation by the Brown & Williamson Company in the attempt to keep him quiet.

2. How does Jeffry Wigand’s non-disclosure agreement (NDA) affect the flow of information in The Insider? What legitimate argument, if any, could Brown and Williamson (B&W) make in support of the agreement? What NDAs have recently been used in the public sector? Using the critical perspective, what are the implications of NDAs for government employees? 300 words. (Cody & Colin)

In the film The Insider, Jeffrey Wigand’s non-disclosure agreement creates a dilemma in his revealing of the tobacco industry’s knowledge of the health risks of its products and practices. He held back from disclosing information at first because he did not want to risk losing his severance package and health care, which his family depended on. However, the aftershock of Wigand’s NDA extended far beyond Mr. Wigand himself. CBS initially aired an interview that excluded Wigand’s involvement, after pressure from the CBS legal department noted the severe legal battle they could face from Brown and Williamson (B&W) if CBS were to air it. I do not believe that B&W should have had a legal leg to stand on with Wigand’s NDA because it was attempting to cover up information that was harming to the health of the public, a conflicting motive in comparison to critical theory. The critical theory developed in association with The Frankfurt School establishes that “a theory is critical to the extent that it; seeks human emancipation from slavery, acts as a liberating influence and works to create a world which satisfies the needs and powers of human beings.” (Cody)

As for a recent example of NDAs being used in the public sector, we can look no farther than the campaign of President Donald Trump. According to an article from The New Yorker, one of Trump’s campaign employees, Alva Johnson, claims she suffered “racial and gender discrimination” during her time working for the campaign. Apparently, Johnson’s suit is “at least the sixth legal case in which Trump campaign or Administration employees have defied their nondisclosure agreements.” Though many politicians use this tactic to minimize political damage, President Trump happens to be its most prominent perpetrator. The implications of NDAs for government employees can be kind of a gray area. On the one hand, they should be enforced if national security or secrets are on the line and could potentially harm the country or government. However, if they are only used to cover up crimes or bad deeds by high-ranking officials, they can be a dangerous tool used for the wrong purpose. This is the same exact way the NDAs were being used by B&W. They wanted to silence Wigand with this document, as well as death threats, so he can’t reveal that they had the intentions of making their cigarettes more addictive. (Colin)

3. John Scanlon and Terry Lenzner were hired by B&W to attack Wigand’s reputation. Jack Palladino and his team of investigators were hired by Richard Scruggs to counter their allegations. Using McLuhan as a lens, analyze the forms of media used by both Scanlon/Lenzner and Palladino. If this war over Wigand’s reputation had occurred in 2018, would today’s media have made things different? If so, how? 300 words. (Georgina)

The media used by Scanlon/Lenzner and Palladino varies from print to television. Scanlon and Lenzner try to discredit Wigand’s reputation through the Wall Street Journal so no one would ever listen to what Wigand has to say about tobacco. They both first use print as their form of media with their 500-page dossier that states how Wigand pleaded guilty as a shoplifter, how he’s a wife beater and ignored his child support duties, how he got ticketed for running red lights, along with other accusations. Their second form of media is television, where they publicly announce the 500-page dossier on the WLKO local news station.

Jack Palladino and his team went around interviewing people who were part of the accusations such as the judge who oversaw the child support case and the police officer who cited Wigand for running a red traffic light. Their form of media was also print. They compiled all their findings into a folder that was handed off to Charlie Phillips who worked for The Wall Street Journal. That folder contained all their leads and sources that contradict what was in the 500-page dossier, proving Wigand’s innocence. The dossier is later dismissed in The Wall Street Journal as “the worst kind of organized smear campaign against a whistleblower,” and “the lowest form of character assassination.”

If the war over Wigand’s reputation had occurred today, the media that would have the most impact in making a difference would be Social Media. With today’s social media platforms, the public that’s hearing about how there’s some sort of health issue regarding Big Tobacco companies’ cigarettes can demand to know the truth. They have the freedom to state their opinions online and share posts with others. Since it’s about such a huge company, the issue would most likely get huge exposure around the world. This can cause people to start protesting, boycotting, or even act violently towards Big Tobacco.

4. In the film, Bergman, Wallace, and Hewitt attend a meeting with CBS Corporate.  CBS general counsel Helen Caperelli informs them of “tortious interference” and its implications for the 60 Minutes Wigand piece. Provide a detailed analysis of the rhetoric used by the participants in the meeting. For each speaker, who is their intended audience, and how do they use the modes of rhetoric? 300 words. (Josh)

In the meeting between Bergman, Wallace, and Hewitt and the CBS Corporate, both sides try to persuade the other to either airing the 60-minute Wigand piece or not. In this discussion, Bergman, Wallace, and Hewitt try to convince Helen (The CBS general counsel) and her board by using rhetoric to show the risky piece on the case of Cigarettes being bad for you. Helen explains “Tortious Interference” and what the consequences would be. Wallace tries to convince them by using logos in saying “interfering? That’s what we do “to steer his point which could easily create an argument for itself considering they work for a news network that is supposed to provide information for the public. To add onto what Wallace says, Bergman explains “this happens all the time, people are always telling us things they shouldn’t”, he also uses logos. Both intended audiences are the board in stating the obvious and reminding them of the true purpose of the show. To try to persuade the board a little more, Hewitt comes back by saying  “After we corroborate it that’s why we never lost a lawsuit and run a classy show”, the team as a whole continuously try to convince the board using ethos, by expressing that news business is risky and its nothing they have not done before. Helen explains through pathos “The greater the truth the greater the damage” this could be for both sides if the whole truth is told and the case is lost the cigarette companies could end up owning CBS, but on the contrary, if the cigarette company losses it could seriously damage the company. Helen’s audience is to company managers. She is speaking on behalf of the company’s CEO and does not want to change the business being lost in court.

Editor: Lauren Bedevia

Source used

Farrow, Ronan. “A Lawsuit by a Campaign Worker Is the Latest Challenge to Trump’s Nondisclosure Agreements.” The New Yorker. 25 Feb. 2019. The New Yorker. 26 Feb. 2019 <

nondisclosure-agreements>. Higginbottom, Karen. “The Price of Being A Whistleblower.” Forbes. 23 Feb. 2017. Forbes Magazine. 26 Feb. 2019 <;.


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