Team 4 Assignment 2: The Insider

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Team 4: You did a good job with this assignment overall and included interesting media and cited a few relevant sources, as well. Although a relatively small amount of summary about the events depicted in The Insider and real life equivalent is appropriate for this assignment, there may have been too much summary. Mentioning class presentations within your analysis for assignments is not necessary. There was an understanding of secrecy and The Insider apparent in the responses, but some of the analysis could have been expanded upon in place of some of the summary in other areas. Question 4 and Question 2 were very well done, and Questions 1 and 3 also made some good points.

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.

​The Insider is a film based on a true story. This is the story about Jeffrey Wigand who became a whistleblower on the tobacco industry, specifically for the work  and research he conducted as a biochemist on the effects of tobacco tampering at a well known top tobacco company named Brown and Williamson. Mr. Wigand discovered that this company was adding a number of substances to cigarettes and pipe tobacco which were harmful to the health of human beings (Brenner para. 15). This occurred at a time when it was necessary for the public to understand the effects of smoking.  Congress was also involved in questioning corporations on whether smoking cigarettes is addictive. The Insider was a reflection of these occurrences during this period. The film starred Russell Crowe as Wigand and the focus was on the fights and disagreements that occurred within CBS on whether or not to publish the 60 minutes interview where Wigand blew the whistle on the tobacco tampering done by Brown & Williamson.  It also focused on the efforts by Brown & Williamson to silence Wigand who was their employee(Feldman para. 8).

​The story behind Wigand is that of secrecy, confidentiality and revelation. Secrecy has been cited through class presentations as a tool to control reputations. This is exactly the case that was happening in the Insider. Brown & Williamson was involved in the manufacturing of cigarettes that were laced with nicotine and other highly addictive substances. Wigand had been hired to help make cigarettes safe for consumers by the company and later on he was fired. After he was fired, he disclosed to his colleague the details of his separation agreement and the company sued him. A confidentiality agreement had to be signed by him and this was a secret to be kept for life. From the foregoing, it is evident that the company had something to hide from the knowledge of the public. The secret was that cigarettes contained substances that made them highly  addictive and were detrimental to the health of the public. According to Dean, non-disclosure agreements have proliferated the entire business sector, placing secrets and items of misconduct outside the knowledge of the public and specifically out of the reach of journalists that might want to expose the misconduct (Para. 2).

​Penetrating a secret is empowering. In this case, the congress wanted to empower the public with knowledge that cigarettes were made to be addictive. The CEO of Brown & Williamson testified to the congress that nicotine that was being added to cigarettes was not addictive. This gave Wigand the ethical justification to blow the whistle because the public was being misled. He lost his job and a good salary and his marriage fell apart. CBS was also conflicted on whether to air the interview or end up facing lawsuits since Wigand had a confidentiality agreement in place with the company. The secret was out and through the revelation, the truth became known. In an interview in 2016, Wigand said that he was pleased with his decision as a whistle blower (Feldman 13).

2. How does Jeffrey 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.

Jeffrey Wigand’s non-disclosure agreement affects the flow of information in “The Insider,” because Wigand signed a confidentiality agreement and he honors his agreements. Wigand doesn’t believe that you can maintain corporate integrity without confidentiality agreements. He has no intention of violating his confidentiality agreement and disclosing that which he said he wouldn’t. In the movie, Wigand has a talk with Sandefur, Sandefur mentioned to him that they’ve drafted a supplement to his agreement, that broadly defines and expands in more detail what is confidential. Sandefur, along with Brown and Williamson (B&W) are very serious in protecting their interests and want Wigand to sign the agreement. If he doesn’t sign the agreement they would terminate the payoffs under Wigand’s severance package, his own and his family’s medical benefits and initiate litigation against him. In support of this agreement, B&W points out that it is in Wigand’s best interest and he will sign it. The NDAs that have recently been used in the public sector were NDAs that were covering up serious wrongdoing, such as the conduct of the Catholic Church in several sex abuse scandals. Confidential settlements had also, on occasion, been used to quiet plaintiffs who suffered harm from an environmental hazard, something other members of a community might want to have been made aware of. The implications of NDAs for government employees is that it’s precisely common, especially in the White House. It was also recently revealed that many of Donald Trump’s top advisers, and even interns were asked to sign NDAs, forcing them to keep quiet about what happens in the White House, even after his presidency ends. NDAs have proliferated purportedly placing every secret, every item of misconduct out of public view- or more specifically outside of the view of some journalists who might want to expose a misdeed. NDAs are extremely controversial. From one vantage, keeping silent is thought necessary to avoid hefty financial penalties. Another view holds that NDAs are often unenforceable, most clearly if the activity meant to be kept secret is illegal, and that even when a court might uphold the agreement, the person held accountable doesn’t want to give up the other side-discovery on their bad behavior.

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.

According to Marshall McLuhan, “The medium is the message, because it is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.” He was talking about the effects of technology, not about the technology itself, but what and how the technology affects people and societies. In the movie, we see a clear example of how technology and media can affect our society by shaping public opinion. The main forms of media used by both Scanlon/Lenzner and Palladino were television and newspaper. Both parties used these media outlets to get their point across. Scanlon and Lenzner started a witch hunt against Wigand to prove that what he was about to say on national television should not be taken seriously. From traffic tickets and shoplifting charges to failure to pay child support, the sole purpose of this was to ruin his reputation and discredit him as a worthy source. Palladino and his investigators also used these media outlets to deny what was being reported about Wigand.

If the war over Wigand’s reputation had occurred in 2018, it would have been different. For starters, newspaper readership has gone down significantly as online apps of journalism have become the norm. Televised journalism, while still relevant, is now spliced into videos and linked to web sites like Youtube, social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter and personal blogs. So, in today’s digital era, Wigand’s witch hunt would have included multiple Facebook articles, tweets, hashtags, blog posts and so much more. It is easier nowadays to spread information and this could be both beneficial and harmful for both parties.

4. In the film, Bergman, Wallace, and Hewitt attend a meeting with CBS Corporate.  CBS general counsel Helen Caperelli informs them of “tortious interference”I 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.

Bergman’s intended audience is towards the public’s interest. Bergman intends to stay true to his duty as part of the news organization. Bergman, through the modes of rhetoric: logic and pathos, tries by all means to protect Wigand’s stance, while also maintaining firm in his belief towards the code of ethics. Reasonably, Bergman seeks the truth and intends to report it, while also protecting his source, which is Wigand, and in order to minimize harm. Bergman, believes that the public is entitled to as much information as possible. He helped give a voice to Wigand, who throughout the movie, was voiceless without his help.

Mike Wallace’s intended audience is the public interest in the rhetorical mode of ethos by using his credibility as a journalist and interviewer for 60 minutes.  This is noted when Wallace says “ we have never lost a lawsuit and run a classy show” . By stating this to CBS counsel Caparelli, Wallace is proving that they always check the sources they are interviewing and make sure that it is verified therefore, a tortious interference issue should not come up and CBS would not be liable for a lawsuit as a third party.

Don Hewitt’s intended audience is in the interest of the CBS company. Hewitt is the executive producer of the show. He has concerns with the show being cancelled and prefers to have a show then nothing at all that can protect his interests and that of CBS. This is noticed in this scene when Kluster comes in and tells the three of them that they want to put an alternative version of the show without Wigand’s interview. Hewitt uses the rhetorical mode of ethos and logos by confirming Kluster’s position on the issue who is the head of CBS.



Helen Caparelli’s intended audience is the best interest of her client, the corporation CBS company. Through the modes of rhetoric ethos and logos, Caparelli strongly believes that the reputation of the company should be protected and is highly concerned with the standards they must maintain in order to avoid potential damages from occurring to CBS. Caparelli refers to “tortious interference,” and warns the gentlemen in the room of its implications if CBS were to endure this type of litigation.  She emphasizes how the damages can increase depending on how much of the truth Wigand will reveal during his interview and imposes a risk upon CBS corporation.

Works Cited

Brenner, Marie. “The Man who Knew too Much.” Vanity Fair, May 1996. Web. https://www.vanityfair.com/magazine/1996/05/wigand199605

Dean, Michelle. “Contracts of Sildence”. Columbia Journalism Review. Winter 2018. Web. https://www.cjr.org/special_report/nda-agreement.php/

Feldman, Cassi. “ 60 Minutes’ Most Famous Whistle Blower” 60 Minutes Overtime. Feb 04, 2016. Web. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-most-famous-whistleblower/

https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-white-house-is-forcing-interns-to-sign-ndas-and-threatening-them-with-financial-ruin

“Cinema Romantico.” A Better Life, www.cinemaromantico.org/2016/07/dissecting-scene-from-insider.html.

Credits:

Daniella Alfonso- Researched and contributed to question 1.

Vanessa Maldonado- Edited, researched and contributed to question 2.

Emily Ortega- Researched, provided images and contributed to question 3.

Quincy Hicks-Researched, provided video and contributed to question 4.

Nicole Crousillat-Proofread, researched, provided images and contributed to question 4.

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