Sacks, D. O. (Producer), & Reitman, J. (Director). (April 14, 2006) Thank You for Smoking [Motion Picture]. USA: ContentFilm International.
Thank You for Smoking is a satirical comedy that follows the life of Big Tobacco lobbyist Nick Naylor. His main job is to report on the findings of Big Tobacco’s research on the link between tobacco and cancer. This “research” is funded almost solely by tobacco companies, and is basically their way of trying to prove that there’s no hard-fast scientific evidence of a correlation. Nick’s job is to spin this research in a way that paints Big Tobacco in a positive light.
The main ethical issue brought up in this film is the fact that Nick has to report on issues that aren’t actually true, and spin them in a way that people will believe. This really raises two issues, the first being that Big Tobacco is essentially lying to the public to get them to buy their product, and the second being that Nick has to lie for them and spin the truth. Nick does feel some remorse, mostly because of his 12-year-old son who looks up to him. But, Big Tobacco definitely isn’t remorseful at all. They are just doing whatever it takes to sell their products.From the tobacco farmers to cigarette manufacturers, there are literally thousands of people within an industry that want the public to stay in the dark about the dangers of their product, just so that they can make money. Although they may not technically be doing anything illegal, the fact that they aren’t being transparent is a huge ethical problem. Nick should probably feel more of a moral problem with his job than he does, but he does occasionally express some remorse. But, his job is literally to make the actual truth about tobacco sound less serious and dangerous, so that people don’t realize how bad it actually is for them. His entire job is clearly ethically corrupt, but for the most part he doesn’t seem to care because he gets a huge paycheck. At the end of the day, he clearly just doesn’t have as high of moral standards as other people.
According to the article by Cooper, one of Americans’ biggest concerns with the media is plummeting news credibility. With situations like the recent Brian Williams scandal, one can see why. Williams, a news anchor for NBC news, was recently caught for lying about being in a helicopter that was shot down in Iraq during the war. According to an article from the Washing Times, he now faces a 6-month suspension without pay while NBC looks into his past work to look for further discrepancies. When a famous news anchor like Brian Williams is caught in a blatant lie, it makes sense for people to become weary about what news anchors and the media will say just to get a good story. The news is supposed to be an outlet that tells the nation the facts about current events, not embellished stories.
Through my casual interviews I discovered that older people seem to have less skepticism about the media than younger people. The two older people I interviewed both felt that, although Brian Williams was definitely in the wrong, it doesn’t mean that he necessarily lied about other things, or shouldn’t be trusted in the future. The three people I interviewed that are my age feel that he should probably just be fired because he clearly isn’t trustworthy. One person pointed out that, if NBC lets Williams come back, it would probably make people lose trust in NBC as a news source in general. All three younger interviewees also expressed concerns about Williams’ prior work, and think that he has probably lied or embellished before but just hadn’t gotten caught yet.
The more situations like the Brian Williams scandal come to light, the more people are going to distrust the media. When huge news stations like NBC employ journalists and anchors that turn out to be untrustworthy, who’s to say smaller stations are telling the truth? National news stations are supposed to have the best fact checkers, and aren’t supposed to make mistakes. The fact that the news is supposed to be the most trustworthy form of media, but sometimes isn’t, also raises other issues. If people can’t trust the news, they definitely won’t trust the rest of the media that doesn’t have as big of an obligation to tell the truth. Journalism as an industry is built on truth telling and honesty, so it needs to live up to that if people are going to have trust in it.