The Insider Assignment- Alexandra Bello, Lailah Johnson, Laurenth Espitia, Shantall Suarez, and Yesenia Montenotte- Team 16

Hi Team #16,  Good work, very coherent post. Good persuasive argument, good detail and writing. Excellent points throughout the essay. Well-done!

 

1. Lowell Bergman is a man who has moral values and wants nothing more than to showcase the truth. Throughout the movie, he is shown working around the clock in order to get the story out about Brown and Williamson Tobacco company. When Bergman receives the box of stolen information regarding confidential information about a tobacco company he tried to contact Wigand. Although Wigand was hesitant at first, Bergman finally was able to get through to him. The film shows Bergman’s persistence and drive to always try to do the right thing. The executives at CBS were essentially threatened by the legal team. They were told that if they aired the Jeffrey Wigand interview in its entirety, they would potentially face litigation from the tobacco company. When the president of CBS News, Eric Ober, decided not to air the full interview Bergman became suspicious and went on to find out about Ober’s desire to sell CBS to Westinghouse. The executives at CBS decided to conceal the information that the public needed to know about in order to preserve a $5.4 billion merger between the two companies. The information that would have been revealed if the full interview had been aired was of public health concern but they were still willing to omit the facts that could save millions of lives. “60 Minutes” decided to air an edited version of the interview that did not reveal all of the harmful practices taking place within the tobacco company. Bergman fought for the full interview to be aired showcasing his dedication to their duty as journalists and not as businessmen.

When it became clear to Lowell Bergman that CBS was not going to air the story that needed to be told he contacted a friend he had at The New York Times. Bergman gave them all of the information on Jeffrey Wigand’s case as well as the situation at CBS and their unwillingness to air the full interview. The article titled, “Self-Censorship at CBS” was published and profoundly ridiculed the staff of 60 minutes for bowing under corporate pressure. The article explains that the First Amendment freedom of press protects newspapers and allows them to put out information if it is factual and especially if it concerns the safety of the public. It basically explained that CBS executives are a group of greedy cowards. The New York Times article concludes by saying that the failure to air the interview due to corporate pressures has tarnished the legacy of Edward R. Murrow, a pioneer of radio and television news broadcasting. This was the true intent of Lowell Bergman. (period) capital He he had the ethics of Edward Murrow etched into his brain and was disgusted by the realization that his colleagues were willing to forgo their morals and journalistic duty for the sake of money and money alone.

2. Jeffrey Wigand’s non-disclosure agreement (NDA) was a legal document signed by him and his former employers preventing him from sharing sensitive information related to the addictive nature of tobacco products and nicotine. Therefore, he could not talk about the medical effects of tobacco or any other information that could reflect his former company employer in a bad light. He was restricted in just how much information he could divulge about the true nature of the company’s products.

NDAs are meant to protect specific information usually in the corporate industry related to the performance or effects of specific products or services. While Brown and Williamson were engaged in the manufacture of harmful products, the NDA ensured that Wigand could not harm the business by exposing the nature of its products (Mann, 1999). Therefore, they could justify their agreement with him based on the effects of his sharing that same information would have on their company.

Recently, Harvey Weinstein who is an affluent film industry investor in the United States used NDAs to silence some of his past employees about issues related to his behavior while contractually bound to them. Harvey’s company employed several actresses and other female employees such as Zelda Perkins who is his assistant. She along other women came forward to report him after their contracts expired for sexual harassment. Harvey used NDAs to silence them stating that his relationship with them was not open to the public or private investigation.

Based on the developments of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment case, alongside the perspective created by the film ‘The Insider,’ the implications of NDAs for government employees are serious. Government employees must refrain from breaking NDAs because some of the secretive information related to governments can be life-threatening. Additionally, governments seek to conceal specific information for the sake of their security and that of the citizens.

3. At one point people religiously depended on the radio, TV and the newspaper for their daily news. However, being in a technology advanced generation, people have become authors, editors, and publishers of their own work from having the ability to access anything at their own fingertips. Both investigative teams utilized the forms of media that they had available to them at the time. They used the traditional methods of digging up one’s past which is usually easy as most information is kept as public record. They simply had to go to a library to find any legal records on Jeffrey Wigand or they would have to go to a city hall or district court to request any information they wanted. In 2018, it is even easier with the advent of Google. Each time a character uses a medium, it creates an even more impactful message on the importance of the media and the role it plays for society.

If this war over Wigand’s reputation would have occurred in 2018, today’s media would’ve completely had a different effect and reaction. Due to the amount of exposure that currently exists today, it is difficult to determine what and who is reliable and credible. Whether a person is educated or not, everyone has the ability to share their opinions. This allows anyone to publish fake news. With this in mind, the United States has laws that protect citizens from defamation, libel, and slander. Exposure isn’t always bad, it can also have a positive effect on people. In Wigand’s case, the war over his reputation would have become a trial of public opinion. The news often publishes whatever they get their hands on for the sake of ratings and this mad dash for content would have had a profound impact on the trial. It could also cause people to be aware of the cause in action. In this case, a larger amount of people would’ve considered quitting smoking, protesting, petitioning, creating a movement and a hashtag on Instagram. Wigand’s whistleblowing could’ve created a name for this wave of change in society.

4. The meeting with CBS corporate results in Bergman and Hewitt getting into an argument over tortious interference and its implications. Bergman uses the rhetoric logos, to assert his point that there are vested interests to sell CBS to Westinghouse. He does so by using evidence found supporting his assertion, quoting lines from an SEC filing. Reading the lines from the document, Bergman then goes onto apply logic to his argument, saying how there is potential vested interest to push for this motion of selling CBS. Bergman continues to build onto his argument by going further on to mention how the company is illogical and bends the truth by refusing to air Wigand speaking the truth, adding in how “the more truth he tells, the worse it gets”. From this, it can be said that Bergman’s audience is the public and the newsman, as he is defending what he does for a living, which is preserving the truth to any situation so he can report it.

On Hewitt’s side of the argument, he defends himself by using the rhetoric ethos and focuses his attention on the reputation of the company talking about how Bergman is a “fanatic” and an “anarchist”. Hewitt also questions Bergman in terms of CBS’s journalistic integrity. Rarely speaking throughout the conversation, Bergman mainly tries to justify the actions taken through the reputation of the company while he constantly denies Hewitt’s argument and focuses on bashing him. Hewitt then begins talking about the future events and conversations that will take place if CBS is sold, where Bergman denies it, saying that Hewitt is “exaggerating”.  Bergman implies that Hewitt will not be satisfied unless he puts “the company at risk”. Based off of this situation, it is clear that Bergman’s audience is mainly Hewitt, as he aims to battle against Hewitt’s argument through his character. Overall, they use different modes of rhetoric to go against each other in the meeting.

 

Works Cited

Brenner, Marie. “Jeffrey Wigand: The Man Who Knew Too Much.” The Hive, Vanity Fair, 31 Jan. 2015.

Dean, Michelle. “Contracts of Silence.” Columbia Journalism Review, 2018.

Ebert, Roger. “The Insider Movie Review & Film Summary (1999) | Roger Ebert.” RogerEbert.com, Brian Grazer, 5 Nov. 1999.

Mann, M. (Director). (1999). The Insider [Motion picture]. United States: Touchstone Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment.

Myers, Scott, and Scott Myers. “Great Scene: ‘The Insider’ – Go Into The Story.” Go Into The Story, Go Into The Story, 3 May 2017.

“Self-Censorship at CBS.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 12 Nov. 1995.

 

Alexandra Bello– Responsible for question #4 and edited the whole paper.

Lailah Johnson– Responsible for question #1 and edited the whole paper.

Laurenth Espita– Responsible for question #2.

Shantall Suarez– Responsible for question #3.
S
Yesenia Montenotte– Responsible for question #1, edited the whole paper and added media and citations.

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