The Insider – IDS3309 Team Assignment 2 – Team 21

Hi Team #21, Good work all!  I enjoyed reading your post and thought your points and persuasive arguments were sound, coherent, and well-thought out. Good writing style. Good analysis of material and terrific images embedded in the post. I hope you enjoyed working on this assignment. Good organization, sound structure and overall good job!

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 Jeffry 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.

Lowell Bergman faces several challenges when he tries to unveil to the public a truth that can cost him and others a lot. He goes through many obstacles to shed light on the serious issue going on in the tobacco industry. Bergman at times faces extraordinary pressure even more than other characters. He questions his own principles and values as well as those of the company he works for. He goes through a roller coaster of emotions, which lead him to make tough decisions and open his eyes to conflicts even he has not anticipated before. Bergman manages to conceal and reveal information in a very meaningful way.

From the very beginning of the movie, Bergman puts his heart and soul into the production of 60 Minutes. The way he pursues Jeffry Wigand suggests that it is Bergman’s priority to keep the public informed at all costs. Bergman begins his journey in this difficult dilemma as someone who seeks to reveal the harmful secrets behind the nation’s third-largest cigarette company, Brown & Williamson. When he is confronted with all the injustice around the case, he fights with all the resources he has to bring the truth to the American audience. Bergman also acts as a friend of Wigand as he wants to protect his integrity and everything he has lost because of this case.

Bergman does not want to conceal any of the information of the tobacco case against Brown & Williamson. However, he is forced to conceal certain information. When CBS decided not to air the original segment of the interview, Bergman strongly opposed that decision. This becomes very clear when he speaks to the NY Times reporter who exposes the inside story on how CBS handled the Wigand affair. In this very unique interview with the NY Times reporter, Lowell manages to conceal information about names, thoughts, even aspects of identity. When he says, “You ask me questions, I tell you if you’re wrong,” he puts the investigative role on the NY Times reporter and simply says he will tell him if his speculations are wrong. Whenever the reporter speculates something that is right, Bergman remains silent and doesn’t show any act of affirmation. The reporter even warns him that if this doesn’t work, he would “burn his bridges.”

Bergman is very persistent to work on this case from the very beginning he got his hands on this information. He possesses great skills in convincing an informer to blow the whistle and reveal the secrets he or she knows. In the scene with Wigand for example, Bergman sends a fax with three simple questions: “Can’t talk to me? Won’t talk to me? Don’t want to talk to me?” With this simple fax, he sets the tone for the entire case. The language Bergman uses in these three questions emphasizes that he understands any circumstance Wigand may be in and allows Wigand to be honest about why he is being resistant to talk with a journalist. This also suggests the expertise Bergman has as he knows exactly how to deal with potential whistleblowers.

Jeffrey Wigand & Lowell Bergman’s conversation after 60 Minutes broadcast. Video begins automatically at 2:09:05.

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.

Wigand’s non-disclosure agreement completely interrupts the flow of information throughout the entire case against the tobacco company. Because of the NDA, CBS cannot reveal the original interview as they would face serious and expensive consequences. Moreover, Jeffry Wigand is personally affected by the NDA. The complexity of the NDA gives B&W enough time to lay out a case against Wigand and present him in a bad light. B&W could have potential good reasoning in support of the agreement. Oftentimes, concealed information is not even harmful to the public, but it’s rather secret because of competitive advantage. In particular, when there is research within the company involved, the company would want to keep this research information confidential, so that none of their competitors could take advantage of it.

Recently, there have been reports about interns at the White House having to sign NDAs (Burke). These reports have caused people to raise eyebrows. In the end, in an institution such as the White House, all employees have different clearance levels. If interns, who should have the lowest level of confidentiality, need to keep quiet about what goes behind the White House, then the integrity of these NDAs needs to be questioned. Is it a simple PR move in an attempt not to expose any information about the operations of the White House or do they really get exposed to confidential information? It is possible that when government employees reveal secrets, they are questioning commonly held assumptions. Moreover, they are trying to expand the bounds of debate with the new information revealed as they show a different perspective of an issue to the public. However, the dilemma comes in determining whether or not they would try to better the society with the secrets exposed. Sometimes, certain confidential information may cause more chaos and harm than good. This is the main reason a government would want to keep some information secret from the public.

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.

Most allegations against Wigand’s reputation as well as any counter-arguments we published in newspapers and supported with some TV reports. John Scanlon and Terry Lenzner leaked the allegations to the Wall Street Journal and revealed some questionable aspects of Wigand’s life. Moreover, Scanlon was also in a close relation with Hewitt and he personally warned the executive producer about the integrity of Wigand. On the other hand, Jack Palladino and his team worked with the Associated Press to publish counter arguments and defend Wigand’s reputation. The fact that all arguments were published either in printed form or through TV reports gives the audience a very narrow view of the issue. As the medium is the message, the entire meaning, value, and integrity of the arguments depends on the source that delivers the reasoning. This has a great influence on the public when they decide whether or not to support Wigand.

If the dilemma over Wigand’s reputation had occurred in 2018, things would have looked differently. The internet has allowed information to flow faster and easier than any other medium. On the one hand, this has caused an enormous quantity of information to be accessible to the public, which in return has also made it possible for “fake news” to be delivered to a mass number of people. On the other hand, quantity is quality in itself. The fact that so many people can publish their opinions and stories allows for really controversial issues to come to surface. Moreover, it is also easier for articles to be published anonymously. WikiLeaks, for example, shows how information can be leaked to the public much easier than ever before. It is possible that the entire case, even the original interview, could have been leaked anonymously online. Moreover, with the help of social media, the support for Wigand would have been much greater. It is likely that different social media groups and campaigns would have supported him and his message. Furthermore, the general public could have researched Wigand’s life and everyone could have drawn his or her own conclusion about any allegations against him.

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.

In the film, Helen Caperelli addresses Bergman, Wallace, and Hewitt to emphasize the implications of publishing the original footage of the interview. She uses ethos and logos to build a strong argument and warns them about how this “tortious interference” could impact the entire company in a very negative way. Caperelli is a credible source to give this type of advice because she is a CBS general counsel and has the company’s best interest in mind. Moreover, through logical reasoning she explains to the men present in the room the scale of damage the company could undergo by revealing the truth. With the language she uses, she appeals to her audience’s obligations toward the company.

All three men address Caperelli in their arguments. Hewitt is a rather passive participant in the meeting. He observes and listens to all sides and asks questions for further clarification. He shows that he trusts Caperelli’s opinion as he does not oppose her or question her reasoning at any point. Wallace also addresses Caperelli with his arguments. His main point is that there is no need to be afraid of a lawsuit as the company has never lost a lawsuit. He uses ethos to convey his point as he has worked with CBS for many years and can confirm that 60 Minutes has always dealt with controversial topics and has always faced the risk for lawsuits. Bergman, on the other hand, handles this meeting differently. He is very emotional and passionate in his arguments. He uses pathos to show that they are responsible for two things. First, they have a man who is willing to reveal a secret to the public that will change the way people view the tobacco industry and will expose leaders who have lied to the public. Moreover, he emphasizes 60 Minute’s obligation to bring the truth to the public and keep their public interest as a priority.

This meeting is very important in the development of the case as it shows Bergman he alone has to fight for the truth and the disappointment in his company is so great that it leads him to quit his job in the end.

Work Cited

Burke, Michael. “White House Interns Forced to Sign Non-Disclosure Agreements: Report.” TheHill, The Hill, 21 Feb. 2019, www.thehill.com/homenews/administration/430922-white-house-interns-being-forced-to-sign-ndas-report.

Credits:

Valentina Tzvetanov – Writer

Lazaro Francia – Researcher

Gabriel Reina – Analyst

Arianna Moss – Media Research

Tiffany Bolanos – Analyst

Jessika Lathulerie – Researcher

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