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A prologue establishes the journalistic bona fides of Bergman and Mike Wallace as they prepare to interview Sheikh Fadlallah for 60 Minutes.

  1. Bergman approaches Wigand—a former executive at the Brown & Williamson tobacco company—for help translating technical documents. Wigand agrees, but intrigues Bergman when he refuses to discuss anything else, citing a confidentiality agreement. B&W later coerce Wigand into a more restrictive agreement, leading Wigand to accuse Bergman of betraying him. Bergman subsequently visits Wigand to defend himself and investigate the potential story. Wigand, though apparently possessing very damaging information, is hesitant to jeopardize his severance package with B&W by revealing anything.
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Bergman contacts Richard Scruggs, an attorney representing Mississippi in a lawsuit against the tobacco industry, suggesting that if they deposed Wigand, it could negate his confidentiality agreement and give CBS cover to broadcast the information. Scruggs expresses interest.

The Wigand family move into a more modest house, Wigand now working as a teacher. One night Wigand finds evidence of trespass, and receives a sinister phone call.


Some time later Wigand receives an emailed death threat, and finds a bullet in his mailbox. He contacts the FBI, but the agents who attend are hostile and confiscate his computer. A furious Wigand demands that Bergman arrange an interview. In the interview, Wigand states that he was fired after he objected to B&W intentionally making their cigarettes more addictive.

Bergman later arranges a security detail for Wigand’s home, and the Wigands suffer marital stress. Wigand testifies in Mississippi, over the objections of B&W attorneys, despite having been served with a gag order. On returning home, he discovers that his wife Liane (Diane Venora) has left him and taken their daughters.


Eric Kluster, the president of CBS News, decides not to broadcast Wigand’s interview, after CBS legal counsel Helen Caperelli warns that CBS is at risk of legal action from B&W. Bergman confronts Kluster, believing that he is protecting the impending sale of CBS to Westinghouse, which would enrich both Kluster and Caperelli. Wallace, and their executive producer Don Hewitt, both side with Kluster. Wigand is appalled, and terminates contact with Bergman.

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