The Insider- Group 17- IDS3309

Hi Team #17, Well-done!  This seems like a good group effort to me. The writing is solid and excellent persuasive points are made throughout the essay. Good work.

Michael Eure

Maria De Los Angeles

Krystal Montoya

Adjany Kappen

Julia Thomas

Nathalie Bernal

The Insider

IDS 3309

February 26, 2019 

Question 1

The Insider’s main character, Jeffrey Wigand, could very easily be compared to a muckraker journalist. He attacks a big tobacco company by attempting to inform the public of secrets that these companies are keeping. Wigand agreed to discuss the scientific make up of cigarettes and the ingredients that these companies are adding into the product that they have pleaded ignorant about in court because he wanted to be able to consider himself a scientific man. After his termination from Brown and Williamson though, he was coerced to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The interview was cut because the tobacco industry threatened to file a lawsuit. As Wigand continued to be served with litigation, all of his noble efforts began to spiral downhill. The New York Times in some way steps in as a fellow muckraker that admonishes CBS for not running the interview. 

Throughout the movie Wigand faced enormous institutional pressures to not share the information he was obligated contractually to keep secret. Not only did the company he formerly worked for (B&W) fire him unreasonably, they began to constantly threaten him, and they eventually began to threaten his family. At first, these vile threats made Wigand afraid and anxious to share the information because he was internally conflicted with protecting his family which was his priority. His wife later filed for divorce due to all the threats and this was her attempt to keep her children and herself safe. Once this happened, Wigand decided to go forth with sharing his secret knowledge. His doubts basically dissipated because once his home life was destroyed, which was his biggest concern, he didn’t care about himself anymore. At this point, he just wanted to get the information out that the public deserved to know, and he wanted to get back at these big-shot CEOs for what they had done to him.

Concealment played a huge role in the cover up of what the Big Tobacco companies knew. During the film, clips of a court hearing demonstrate all the CEOs, also known as the seven dwarves, sworn in under oath lying about their consciousness of nicotine’s addictive properties and how it is essentially a drug. The big tobacco companies in the film, like many other companies and brands, use NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) to conceal and maintain secrets they do not want the public, the government, or anyone who isn’t on the inside to know. These secrets would virtually destroy their industry, so they use a government document to stop people from sharing any of this information. Although hundreds of people have attempted suing these companies for damages, medical expenses, and long-term pain and suffering, they win time after time by simply pulling out their wallets. These companies are the literal representation of lying and concealment in a corrupt manner. They are fully aware of what their product is doing and is capable of, yet they continue to put the people’s health at risk, not informing them of what chemicals are actually being put into the product because it keeps money flowing into their pockets.

The Insider
Image result for the insider

Question 2

Jeffry Wigand’s non-disclosure agreement (NDA) affects the flow of information because it stops him from giving information he believes is morally right to provide.Wigand sacrificed many things when he decided to talk to the press. Morally, he believes that he should share this information because it would benefit the American people who are being lied to by the big tobacco companies, but now he is cautious in sharing confidential information to avoid certain consequences like going to jail and not being able to get medical coverage for his daughter.

B&W has its employees sign this agreement so they can control what information flows in or out. These agreements stop any sensitive information from leaking and essentially these secrets allow them to lie. These documents also keep information, formulas, recipes, out of the hands of other companies who might want to use it for their own benefit. The NDA allows the company to sue the person who breaks the agreement in the contract, allows them to place a gag order on that person, and if that person decides to continue talking, they will be found in contempt of court and could face jail-time.Brown & Williamson’s argument for the NDA is that if contractually bound information were revealed, they would essentially lose customers and lose a lot of lawsuits.       

It is very rare for government officials to sign an NDA. Government information should be public as the citizens have a right to knowing what their elected officials are up to.Recently NDAs have been talked about and seen a lot in the Trump Administration. President Trump, unlike many that held office before him, asks any officials that work in the White House to sign an NDA. This has been receiving a lot of backlash as many agree that government officials are meant to serve the public, an NDA would violate that common “law” very easily. 

Question 3

Marshall McLuhan stated that the “medium is the message”, meaning that the way you send the message is more important than the actual message itself. The medium affects the way the audience can interpret the message. The primary form of media utilized by both Scanlon/Lenzner and Palladino is television. The use of television provides the viewers to see whomever is speaking. They are given the opportunity to read body language to fully understand the message. This can affect the audience’s interpretation completely because if they see that the speaker is being earnest, then they will believe it more. In the case of both Scanlon/Lenzner and Palladino, the audience seeing their responses gave them the opportunity to decide who they want to believe.

If this war over Wigand’s reputation had occurred in 2018, today’s media definitely would have affected it because it would have spread to a wider audience than it did. The media has grown so much since the release of this movie that there are multiple different platforms that can be used to tarnish one’s reputation. Especially when it comes to whistleblowing. People nowadays have very torn opinions; they either appreciate it because it is bringing something to their attention that was hidden, or they consider it as a negative. Reputations are easily stained in this day and age because once you say one thing to turn the public against you, many different things that you may have said that have been problematic in the past start coming to light. A modern-day example of this is when Trump had begun his presidency campaign and everyone who was against him started pointing out the bad things that he had done in the past. Trump was saying multiple problematical things and many of his enemies decided to attack by releasing more things that would further tear apart his reputation.

Question 4

In the film, The Insider, Helen Caperelli, CBS Corporate counsel meets with journalist Lowell Bergman, host Mike Wallace, and producer Don Hewitt to discuss claims of tortious interference. In this scene, all characters utilize rhetoric, rhetorical questions, diction and allusion to display their emotions on the imposition of tortious interference with an overall tone of satire.

Right from the start, we see Don Hewitt stop writing to listen to Caperelli when she mentions the words “tortious interference”. Once Caperelli defines tortious interference, Hewitt responds by asking a rhetorical question, “Interfering? That’s what we do.” Hewitt’s purpose in his use of this satirical question was to make the argument and criticize the claims in posing the assumption of the journalists being in violation of tortious interference, hence journalists’ jobs are to report valuable information. Another example of Hewitt’s rhetorical questions would be when he said, “Why? You think we have liability?” This is not meant to receive a straight answer from Caperelli, but instead to bait her into arguing.

To inform the three media workers about tortious interference, Caperelli uses diction to explain to them what they are in breach of. In the film, she says, “… I might add, that’s already rife with problems…And I’m told there are questions as to our star witness’ veracity.” The diction used in these examples is meant to set her point of view towards the imperious jurisdiction and to lead her into her argument of what the journalists violated and why they shouldn’t air the story.

Bergman uses an allusion, “Is this Alice in Wonderland?”, to exaggerate implications of the damage they might receive. Referring to a well-known children’s story, Bergman expresses his feelings of the absurdity towards Caperelli’s statement about the amount of damages and veracity.


Question answers were a group effort and contribution on behalf of:

Michael Eure

Maria De Los Angeles

Krystal Montoya

Adjany Kappen

Julia Thomas

Editing: Nathalie Bernal


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