narrow to gleaming slits, his mouth pursesrnin a dry smile. He looks for all thernworld like an iguana who has just eaten arnparticularly succulent cockroach. Yournhalf expect to sec a forked tongue slitherrnfrom between his w rinkled lips. He’s gotrnwhat he wants. Ifs the fix his audiencerncraves, the ail-American stimulant: moralrnoutrage. There’s nothing like it for impact-rnboosHng your ratings!rnThat is what’s wrong with The Insider.rnRather than deli er a reasoned expositionrnof the tobacco issue, Mann has chosen torngive his audience a fix that will makernthem feel morallv superior for a fewrnhours but change nothing when the narcoticrnwears off. He does this by featuringrnthe more cinematically sensational aspectsrnof Wigand’s case without reall}’ diggingrninto it. In the process, he virtuallvrnignores the real story which, as with sornmuch else in America’s public life, liesrnwith the legal communit}’ and their wondrousrnabilib,’ to cloud issues behind near-rnK’ impenetrable smokescreens.rnWigand is portra ed as a troubled, irasciblernman who, despite his $300,000-plusrnsalary, felt undervalued as Brown andrnWilliamson’s director of research. Hernhad preiouslv worked for Pfizer andrnJohnson & Johnson and had alwa’srnthought of himself as “a man of science”rnbefore being lured away by Big Tobacco’srnmoney. He had rationalized hisrnmove by telling himself he might dornsome good in his new position, perhapsrndeising a safer cigarette. But once atrnB&’W, he soon discovered that sciencerntook a backseat to profits. Eventualhrnfalling out with the company’s leaders, hernreceied a handsome settlement in scerancernpa’ and benefits on the conditionrnthat he strictly obsere the confidentialitv’rnagreement he was pressured to sign.rnA question arises: Given that, since atrnleast the 1950’s, every senhent Americanrnhas known that cigarettes are addictiernand harmful, whv would Wigand feelrncompelled to di’ulge this on broadcastrntelevision at such financial risk to himselfrnand his family? True, he was the first tornreveal conclusiveU^ that tobacco companiesrnknowingly manipulate their product’srnnicotine content, but was this reallyrna surprise? Isn’t this giving the customersrnwhat tliey want? Besides, does this knowledgernadd anything substantive to the public’srnunderstanding of the danger cigarettesrnpose? The film suggests Wigandrnwas dri en over the edge by B&W’s hamhandedrnpolicy of enforcing his silencernwith intimidation. We are treated tornscenes of stalkings, death threats, even arnbullet left in his mailbox, each given thernfidl Hollywood treatment —ominousrnmusic, claustrophobic close-ups, off-balancernhandheld camera shots, and quickenedrnmontage. But the closing creditsrnadmit that none of these alleged abusesrnwas ever substantiated. So did Wigandrndeliver his message mereh- out of spite?rnOr was there another motive?rnWe know that one special-interestrngroup has found Wigand’s declarationrnimmenseh’ helpful: the personal-injurvrnlawyers who had been longing to sue BigrnTobacco on behalf of diseased smokersrnand state health-care programs. Wigandrngave them tlie bullet they needed tornbring down this cash cow that had eludedrnthem for decades. This is the real stor’,rnbut Mann gets it seriousK- wrong, hi thernfilm, all the anti-tobacco lawvers withrnwhom Wigand cooperates come off asrnselfless public servants. Nothing couldrnbe further from the trith. For a goodrntreatment of the legal operatives behindrnthe scenes in the tobacco wars, see PeterrnPringle’s book, Cornered: Big Tobacco atrnthe Bar of justice. Pringle reveals how thernindustry’s lawyers and their anti-tobaccornadversaries cut a sweetheart deal thatrnpromises to enrich all concerned parficipantsrn—except the small tobacco farmer.rnHow much good it will do the generalrnpublic, especially the poor bastards whornare foolish enough to confinue smoking,rnremains to be seen. The settlementrn(S368.5 billion, to be paid out to thernstates participating in the suit over 25rnvears) is enormous, but will these fundsrnactuallv be used to defra- our taxes andrnmedical costs? Or, like state lotto proceedsrnofficialK” earmarked for education,rnwill thev m steriousK’ disappear into otherrnprograms, ones a little closer to ourrnrepresentatixes’ tender hearts? New YorkrnCit)’ and Nassau Count)- on Long Islandrnare alreadv planning to balance theirrnwantonh mismanaged budgets by issuingrnbonds backed b the tobacco pa) day.rnWhere there’s smoke . . .rnThe judgment against the industryrnsounds staggering. But the big tobaccorncompanies hae it all figured out. First,rnthey’re lowering their costs b importingrnmore and more tobacco from overseasrnwhile cutting flie small American tobaccorngrower out of the market. Second,rnthe)’re paying for the settlement by colludingrnin “legal” price fixing, raisingrncigarette prices to cover their debt.rnThird, whatever part of the settlement isrnnot covered b’ this surcharge. the)”ll takernas a tax deduction. All in all, not a bad arrangementrnwhen you consider that thernterms of the agreement also insidaternthem from any further lav’suits on behalfrnof their croaking customers. And ourrnheroes, the anti-tobacco lawyers? Well,rnb) golly, they’ve hit the tobacco jackpot.rnThe) ‘re in line for fees of 15 to 25 percentrnof this settlement, making some of themrnmulti-millionaires, if not billionaires.rnBoth sides have couxeniently ignoredrnthe quesfion of indiidual responsibilih’.rnCouldn’t Americans be considered capablernof deciding on their own whether orrnnot to risk smoking? No. It wouldn’t dornfor the counselors to bring this up becausernit would put their exorbitant fees atrnrisk. On the other hand, those defendingrnthe industry could never admit thatrnsmoking was ever anvthing but a simplernpleasure to be indulged as customersrnfreely chose. If they admitted for a momentrnthat tobacco has drug properties,rnthe FDA would claim the right to regulaternit as it does other pharmacologicalrnsubstances. Simple honesty is the firstrnvictim in our litigious societ)’.rnAnd so we’ve had to endure the patheticrncomedy of the cigarette wars forrnmore than three decades, culminafing inrna sadly hilarious spectacle in 1994 whenrnthe heads of the major cigarette companiesrnwere brought before Henry Waxman’srnHealth and Enironment HousernSubcommittee. Swathed in their $3,500rnsuits and coifed to a fare-thee-well, thernSeen Dwarves, as they’re affecfionatehrnknown in the industry, stood up to thernrepresentatives with joint resolve. Adheringrnto their legally scripted position, eachrnswore in turn that it had never once occurredrnto him to “beliee” cigarettes werernaddictive. If you’e ever wondered vh’rnCEOs are paid their obscenely inflatedrnsalaries, here’s the answer. The cool effronteryrnof these meir was truly priceless.rnRather than trouble us with all this,rnMann chose to focus primarily on thernjournalists involved, principally LowellrnBergman, the CBS producer who luredrnand shepherded Wigand irrto his momentrnof media fame on 60 Minutes.rnPlayed by Al Pacino, Bergman is supposedrnto be a latter-day John the Baptistrnrisking his journalisfic head to herald therntrufli. However, Pacino didn’t convincernme that Bergman was airything morernflian a hotshot reporter who saw, in thernshort-fused Wigand, his chance for a sensationalrnscore. There’s nothing wrong inrnthis. Journalists are supposed to go forrnscoops, even those that are more appar-rn46/CHRONICLESrnrnrn