November 4, 2011
Whistle-Blowing and The Insider
The Insider tells the story of Jeffrey Wigand, a scientist and executive with Brown and Williamson, a major tobacco manufacturer, who decides to come forward and “blow the whistle” on “Big Tobacco.” His testimony in the Mississippi’s lawsuit against the tobacco companies revealed that the CEOs of these companies knew the addictive affects of cigarettes, despite their testimony to the contrary in front of a Congressional hearing. However, this whistle blowing presents many moral and ethical problems. This paper will not only present those issues, but the justifications for whistle-blowing and whether or not Wigand was justified in his whistle-blowing; whether or not he is credible; the importance of his family as shown in the film; how Wigand and Lowell Bergman, producer of “60 Minutes” and the person who convinces Wigand to come forward, feel about confidentiality agreements; and, lastly, what kids of conflicts of interest Wigand engages in when he comes forward. Both Wigand and Bergman face some serious moral and ethical dilemmas in this film. Firstly Wigand, in order to “blow the whistle,” has to violate the confidentiality agreement that he signed during his employment with Brown and Williamson. “Blowing the whistle” also means putting his family’s financial stability in jeopardy. When mentioning his concerns with coming forward to Bergman, Wigand actually states that he is putting his family’s “welfare in jeopardy” (The Insider). However, if he does not come forward, then information about how Brown and Williamson ignored “health concerns consciously” (The Insider) would not be revealed, and the addictive affects of smoking would remain a secret. Getting this information out is clearly in the public interest. While Wigand ponders whether to forsake his family’s future for the sake of the public good, Bergman has his own moral dilemma. As a producer for “60 Minutes,” he...