Team assignment: The Insider

  1. 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 assignment requires an analysis of the “pressures and obstacles to getting at the truth” faced by one of the principle characters. Assuming you chose Wigand, there is little examination of the role of secrecy, lies, confidentiality, and revelation. The answer is mostly a summary of events in the film. Watch your tenses.

The Wigand affair was one of the most complicated cases the media ever faced due to being a story about Brown and Williamson’s tobacco health concerns that were wrapped under confidential agreement from the public. This was only until Lowell Bergman convinced Dr. Jeffrey Wigand to go on his show 60 minutes to reveal the truth behind the company Brown and Williamson’s product. Wasn’t it still complicated after that?

In the movie the CEOs swore in court that the cigarettes were not addictive, Wigand’s attempt at slander not the right word here to discredit the tobacco company’s reliability and trustworthiness would backfire at Wigand. The Brown and Williamson’s started to dig in any information that Dr. Wigand withheld from CBS to be used against him, in retaliation making a smear campaign out of the situation. During the affair, he would be left with death threats that would traumatize and ruin his relationship with his wife and eventually lead to them a divorce. Lowell Bergman eventually went out of his way asking for publishers to release Dr. Wigand statements on the health issues caused by cigarettes from Brown and Williamson’s.

CBS also had a big part on in the tobacco case as they would not release the full interview Dr. Wigand did on the show 60 minutes, instead CBS wanted to reveal an alternate that did not include Dr. Wigand revealing any information on Brown and Williamson‘s.The reason why the company was against the full video an even look for alternatives was due to a purchase that would merge CBS and Westinghouse for $81, General counsel of CBS News Ms. Helen Caperelli would receive 3.9 million dollars and Mr. Eric Kluster, president of CBS News, would receive 1.4 million dollars if the share deal was approved. The risk of the company Brown and Williamson’s filing to sue against CBS due to breaking confidentiality agreements through third party. This could cause an impact between the relation between CBS and Westinghouse, but also ruined the chance of merging between the companies. 

At the end Lowell Bergman discloses full information and the video interview of Dr. Wigand to New York Times to ensure that even though CBS released an alternate, the uncensored version would still be revealed to the public. Assuring that Dr. Wigand’s sacrifice and pain did not go in vain and it help exposed what cigarettes can do as a health problem. Eventually CBS release the uncensored interview due to the New York Times newspaper exposing Brown and Williamson chemical interference with the cigarette production process.

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.

Good analysis.

Jeff Wigand’s non-disclosure agreement affects the flow of information by limiting his ability to expose Brown and Williamson’s immoral business activities of not just lying about the addictive nature of nicotine to their customers, but also exploiting these addictive properties in cigarettes to make them more addictive by adding chemicals in order to improve their profits. There’s also the issue of perjury by the company’s management on US Congress, and their blackmail and threats today against Wingard’s family if he whistle-blows (Mann, 1999). The NDA is also affecting the flow of information in the film because CBS Corporation is refusing to air the 60 minutes interview due to the potential lawsuit from Brown and Williamson. Good.

Brown and Williamson can cite protection of their intellectual property rights and their vast research and innovations work in the justification for their non-disclosure agreements. Good. Some of the non-disclosure agreements recently used in the public sector include those signed by White House employees working in the Trump administration and support staff for different members of Congress (McCullough, 2019). Some of the gravest implications of NDAs for government employees include tying their hands when it comes to reporting corrupt political activities, and this may even lead to these employees being misused by politicians. NDAs for government employees, however, also prevents malicious leakage of important intelligence that is not meant for public consumption.

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.

Good analysis.

John Scanlon and Terry Lezner were hired to investigate Wigmand’s history and find every mistake that he has made in his lifetime. From running a red light to not paying child support, they found everything they could that could be used against him and potentially catch him in a lie. Berman continuously told him that it didn’t matter if his testimony was truthful, if they had found anything about him that was a lie then his reputation would be ruined, and his testimony would not be trusted. The people of B&W were out to get him for tip-toeing around the confidentiality agreement and he now held the reputation of “whistleblower”. The news that they had dug up was published by the wall street journalists Wall Street Journal and the public became aware of his micro mistakes. This movie was based in the 90’s when the electronic revolution was starting to occur. McLuhan had mentioned in his interview that this revolution was moving fast and could generate a huge shift in how information is perceived and decrease the reliability of the news that was being distributed to the public. If the war over Wigmand’s reputation had occurred in 2018, there would be hundreds of more sources and people chiming in on the issue. Yes. In the movie the investigators had to dig up information first-handedly firsthand through interviews with past acquittances acquaintances in secrecy. Nowadays we can find somebody’s history just by the search of their name on Google. When one person makes a mistake, every news reporter is on it to publish an article on snapchat, Facebook, twitter, and Instagram as soon as possible. Social media has extended the amount of information distributed to the public and reaches a more extensive audience, anybody and everybody would be able to dig up his history within minutes and distribute it to the mass media.  Good.

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.

A good summary, but you needed to focus on what was ethos, pathos, and logos.

Helen Caperelli tells the men at the table that if the interview comes to light through CBS, there would be serious, legal consequences for the company because of this tortious interference. Helen’s intended audience is the company of CBS itself. She wants to protect the company because she knows that if the interview is released, then CBS can face a huge lawsuit and their company could end up being owned by Brown and Williamson. One of the rhetoric’s that she uses is “the greater the truth, the greater the damage”. Is this pathos, logos, or ethos? Since Jeffrey Wigand knows everything about Brown & Williamson, he represents a huge threat to the tobacco company. The truer information that is disclosed in the interview, the greater the legal penalty because of Jeffery Wigand’s confidentiality agreement. Not only will Jeffery be in huge legal trouble, but the company of CBS as well. Lowell Bergman, Mike Wallace, and Don Hewitt do want the interview to be aired so that the truth surrounding the addictive effects of nicotine come to light in the public eye. Lowell Bergman uses the rhetoric in his defense that he works for a news organization and that people are always telling him things that they shouldn’t because that is what his job requires him to do, get the truth and make sure they are factual and have relevance. Mike Wallace then adds confidently to Lowell Bergman’s statement that they have never lost a lawsuit to persuade Helen Caperelli to air the 60-minute episode. Bergman, Wallace, and Hewitt’s intended audience are the people in society that buy the products that are offered by these big tobacco companies. They want to make public aware that tobacco is indeed an addictive drug that is extremely dangerous and that it can harm your lungs and nervous system and cause many lifelong diseases. 

Credits:

Question 1- Sebastian Saavedra and Anthony Orezzoli

Question 2- Marielle Cohen

Question 3 & editing- Brittany Adams 

Question 4- Taylor Wells & Joey Hernandez

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