Team 5 Assignment 2

  • 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.

Hello Team 5,

Some excellent points were made in Question 1 analyzing the film using concepts from secrecy/revelation. A couple of grammatical issues “core principles and values were to lie”: principles and values are things and not actions. Each question was answered with a demonstrated comprehension of secrecy and the events that occurred in The Insider and, with a few exceptions, well-written.

The film “The Insider” shared the true story behind the events Jeffrey Wigand had to face and the time leading up to his “60 Minutes” Interview. Wigand’s life was turned upside down when he got caught in between the tobacco war. After being fired from his job at Brown & Williamson (B&W), he was restrained, harassed, and even threatened. The values behind concealment and revelation were prominent throughout the tobacco case. The first main example of concealment was the Brown & Williamson company restricting Jeffrey under a contract. After getting fired from the B&W company, Wigand was contacted by Bergman, an executive at CBS who needed help interpreting a few documents. After this meeting, Wigand was forced by B&W into a more restricted non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement with harsh consequences if he did not cooperate. Dr. Wigand knew too much about the tobacco company’s undercover attempts to increase sales and had intel information that could potentially damage the reputation and public image of the company. Thus, jeopardizing his value/benefits with them. The harsh restriction from B&W was also protecting the company from their lies and confidentiality. Ethically speaking, the company was acting in favor of their own interest rather than that of the public eye. Wigand and Bergman, on the other hand, believed that the public should know the truth behind the company’s hidden agenda. 

As the film progressed, Wigand struggled to decide whether or not he would abide by his contract of concealing information. Though his values eventually changed after receiving death threats from anonymous, but likely B&W personnel. This led him to change his mind and contact Bergman to have the interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes”. Wigan then had a revelation about the company during court, by speaking the truth and therefore exposing B&W. Wigan and Bergman both experienced tremendous risk and backlash as they were unsure where the story could lead. Wigan didn’t only have to look out for himself, but for his family as well: It can be understood why his wife left him as the constant fear of looking over their shoulders was too much to handle and greatly interfered with their private life. Bergman and Mike Wallace also dealt with the possibility of a lawsuit, shall they air the official interview which reveals the classified information of the tobacco company. For weeks, they were unsure of whether or not they would air the interview and what the possible repercussions of doing so would be. Brown and Williamson’s’ core principles and values during this dilemma were to lie and manipulate the public into thinking that Wigan was exaggerating; when in reality they were covering their illegal and nasty methods of boosting sales by adding other chemicals to the already addictive substance, known as nicotine. Despite the case becoming increasingly popular and headlining nearly everywhere, they pushed to make sure that the general population would understand the risks of continuing to consume tobacco product from B&W. Both were able to achieve this by getting the public to be concerned with this issue or in other words, raising awareness for the problem. 

  • 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? 

The non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a legal contract between at least two parties sharing confidential material with the purpose of not sharing it with anybody and wish to restrict access to a third party.  Wigand was unemployed and if he breached his NDA he would lose his medical coverage which he needed to treat his daughter who had asthma. The dilemma of the NDA held Wigand on deciding what he should do. The Brown & Williamson company knew that the information Wigand had was important, sort of like a “secret formula” and if Wigand revealed the information, other companies would copy Brown and Williamson’s formula and cause them to lose millions of dollars.

According to the government, “President Donald Trump’s top advisers were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), forcing them to keep quiet about what happens in the White House”. For the government, the value of information is a priority and they make their employees sign NDAs because in case someone leaves, the government would not want the employee to reveal information that could harm the country or the people. Another reason is that when the government makes their employees sign these contracts, the employees are less likely to break the contract as they know they could be sued. The employees also work with people’s personal information and if any of it leaks, it could cause chaos because people trust the government to keep their information safe. 

  • 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.

McLuhan notes that we as consumers blindly observe and take notes of the messages media presents when in reality we should be more mindful of their push of agendas. Utilizing McLuhan’s outlook that “the medium is the message” we can reason that Scanlon/Lanzer created a 500-page dossier not to just advise the public about their ex-employee Wigand’s faults, but also to assassinate his character and disprove him as credible witness to the hidden effects of nicotine in cigarettes; this was an action taken in order to prevent big tobacco companies from losing millions in revenue because of Wigan’s claims worrying cigarette smokers. 

Scanlon/Lenzner disbursement of their dossier via television news stations solidifies McLuhan’s perspective because in sharing this dossier with news outlets, not only do Scanlon/Lenzner imply nationally that Wigand’s faults make him incompetent to share truth about big tobacco, but also embarrass and humiliate the fearful and paranoid Wigand further because news of his faults would be ubiquitous. Palladino allows The Wall Street Journal to publish an article exposing that evidence of Wigand ’s allegations in the 500-page dossier is backed by scant or contradictory evidence. In sharing the news of Wigand’s allegations to be false, The Wall Street Journal exemplifies McLuhan’s outlook because rather than the maintenance of Wigand’s reputation matters, what matters is that a credible source is solidifying that the effects of nicotine in tobacco should be dispersed to the American public.

Currently, the media looks to disperse allegations in a manner quickly and ubiquitously, so if the war over Wigand’s reputation were to happen in 2018, it would be trending on social media via the internet, online news, television, and print sources, and even in worldwide news. False accusations concerning Wigand’s character may have been disputed via internet communication, television and internet interviews.  

  • 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.


     During the film, The Insider, main characters Bergman, Wallace, and Hewitt attend a meeting with CBS general counsel Helen Caperelli to discuss how the 60 Minutes Wigand piece will affect the company, demonstrating different modes of rhetoric throughout.  Lowell Bergman, an investigative journalist for CBS 60 Minutes, is one of the main men behind Wigand’s piece on exposing the Brown and Williamson tobacco company. Bergman’s intended audience is the general public, specifically people who support Brown and Williamson’s tobacco products since the company is lying about their cigarettes being more addictive. Throughout the process of the interview with Wigand coming together, Bergman uses the rhetorical mode of narration, including background information on the tobacco company and the rhetoric mode of description, giving details and creating a picture for the public to visualize. Bergman also uses logos, from the rhetoric triangle, to focus on the negative facts that Brown and Williamson have been manipulating nicotine through ammonia chemistry and hiding it from the public.  

Mike Wallace, an American journalist, and Don Hewitt, a news producer for CBS, both had an intended audience similar to Bergman’s. Their intended audience was the general public interested in exclusive news pieces such as the interview with Wigand and the interview conducted at the beginning of the film with Hezbollah founder, Sheikh Fadlallah. Although Wallace and Hewitt acquire the same intended audience as Bergman, their modes of rhetoric differ. Wallace and Hewitt both used the rhetorical modes of compare and contrast, and analogy since both end up siding with CBS Corporate to edit the interview in order to prevent the risk of the company getting sued by B&W. They both compared and contrasted how things would turn out in the future if they left Wigand’s interview unedited. Wallace and Hewitt used ethos, from the rhetoric triangle, as well, demonstrating their “goodwill” to CBS by editing the tapes and following orders.  

CBS general counsel, Helen Caperelli, used the rhetorical mode of cause and effect, to explain how this interview could potentially have big consequence for CBS if it gets aired to the public, due to the risky content that could leave CBS with a billion-dollar lawsuit against B&W. Her intended audience were the people present at the meeting, which includes Bergman, Wallace, and Hewitt. Caparelli also used ethos, from the rhetoric triangle, which allowed her to use her credibility and authority at CBS Corporate, to weigh in on the topic of the interview and how it might affect the company altogether. Thus, guiding the participants of the meeting to what might be best for CBS in the end. 

Question 1 – Nathaniel Cuevas and Pedro Almeyda

Question 2 – Josue San Martin

Question 3 – Dane Witter

Question 4 – Veronica Martinez

Editors – Alana Ortiz and Pedro Almeyda 

Works Cited

“NDAs and Confidential Settlements Shake State Capitols and City Halls.” Governing Magazine: State and Local Government News for America’s Leaders, Governing, www.governing.com/topics/mgmt/gov-nda-states-trump-confidential-settlement-employee-cities.html.

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