Recent Whistleblowers Commentaries

Featured image for “Four Who Made a Difference in 2014”
Four Who Made a Difference in 2014
While everybody is posting their own end-of-the-year list, here’s my selection of ethical stand-outs. Mike Carey – Carey is the first African-American to referee the Super Bowl and has been honored as one of the best in the game in 2008. While honesty and fairness are critical to his job, so is respect. So, in 2006 Carey quietly requested that...
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December 31, 2014
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The Razor’s Edge
What happens to a whistleblower after they blow the whistle? Are they considered heroes or villains? Do their actions inspire others, or are the personal risks too great? Those are some of the questions that are explored in a podcast(Mar. 11), by Julia Taylor Kennedy for the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Taylor Kennedy begins her conversation by talking to...
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April 2, 2014
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Revisiting Snowden
Both the New York Times and Britain’s Guardian newspapers offered editorials in support of clemency or plea bargain in the case of NSA leaker Edward Snowden. “Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed,” the Times said (Jan. 1), “and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may...
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January 3, 2014
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2013 Year-End Review, Part I
Remember these guys? Did they rise to the top of the bottom of the barrel? A look at the Good, the Bad and the Ridiculous over the past year. By the numbers – The Center for Public Integrity offers up a few items from the ridiculous: Number of bills passed by Congress this year that have been signed into law: 58 Number of bills passed in 1948,  » Read more...
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December 27, 2013
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Jeff Wigand on Mike Wallace
In August 2000, I contacted Dr. Jeffrey Wigand to contribute to my book, What Do You Stand For? Jeff is notably remembered for his interview with Mike Wallace for the CBS News show 60 Minutes as well as the subsequent legal turmoil in which Brown & Williamson threatened CBS with a multi-billion dollar lawsuit if the interview was aired. What did Wigand know that...
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April 10, 2012
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Root Rot
Global Investment banking giant Goldman Sachs lost $2.15billion of its market value the day after London-based employee Gregory Smith told the world in a New York Times Op-Ed that the company is not only “toxic and destructive,” but is only interested in “How much money did we make off the client?” In 2009 Rolling Stone story, reporter Matt Taibbi called Goldman...
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March 16, 2012
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The Razor’s Edge
Jeffrey Wigand, former executive at tobacco giant Brown & Williamson, becomes a celebrity after appearing on 60 Minutes telling how big tobacco lied for decades to millions about the facts of cigarettes and smoking. Hollywood makes a major motion picture about his ethical stand and hires Russell Crowe to play him. Result: Jeff becomes an even bigger celebrity. Cynthia Cooper, former internal auditor...
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June 13, 2011
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Snake Pit
“September 2005,” former AIG investment specialist Gordon Massie writes, “…the atmosphere at AIG was still toxic and oppressive.” Of course, the real dilemma for any whistleblower is what happens after you report something wrong? Are the people at the top willing to accept and act on the information you uncover or are they out to bury it… and you? What followed for Gordon...
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April 7, 2011
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Snake Oil
Historically, the term applied to a Chinese painkiller originally derived from the skin of Chinese water snakes. Due to the lack of efficacy, however, the expression quickly became code for any fraudulent product. But the vital ingredient in snake oil was not in the bottle but out of the mouth of the salesman who would breeze into a town, fast-talk...
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April 5, 2011
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The Insider – 12 Years Later
There’s a moment near the end of the 1999 movie The Insider where Jeff Wigand is watching his whistle-blowing interview on 60 Minutes with his two daughters.  During the interview, one of his daughters looks over at him and slowly smiles. Between 1995 and 1996, Dr. Jeffrey Wigand lost his job, his house, his wife and for a time, his...
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May 10, 2008