Near the end of The Insider, after the crippled down version of Jeffrey's interview aired on TV and Lowell Bergman returns from his forced vacation, he ends up somewhere in the US countryside in the middle of nowhere. There he meets a bunch of supposed geologists whom he identifies as FBI agents on trail of the Unabomber. When he informs his FBI contact about his findings he gets a guaranteed 3 hour pre-information before the attempted arrest.

But I wonder what the relevance of this subplot actually is. Seeing that the complete interview is finally aired because of Lowell in turn blowing the whistle on CBS's questionable withholding and his whitewashing of Jeffrey's reputation in the newspapers, he certainly didn't use his connections in the Unabomber case as pressure. Nor did he use it to keep his job at CBS, since he resigns shortly afterwards.

So, is Lowell's investigation in the Unabomber case in any way connected to Jeffrey Wigand's case? If not, what was the relevance of this subplot? Why was Lowell there and in which way does it relate to the rest of the movie's story?

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    Interesting question! My memory's rusty but I see it as a world-building/character scene for Bergman, to show us 1) he's the journalistic equivalent of "natural police", and 2) that life goes on for people around Jeff. The scene shows Bergman's bulldog tenacity at work on another lead for a story we know is historically relevant. I don't know if the scene is biographically accurate to real-life Bergman, but in the movie him pursuing a story involving the FBI makes sense, since it's established he has contacts there.
    – rbsite
    May 19, 2014 at 12:47

1 Answer 1


I largely agree with the comment - the point is that Bergman is an amazingly gifted reporter. He puts a major FBI operation together from some pickup truck with high-power antennas and 2 agents claiming to be geologists with perfectly-manicured nails. This is basically consistent with the kind of stuff he pulls in the rest of the film.

That said, the role within the larger plot is that his stock at CBS was astronomical and he still chose to quit, which Mann discusses in this interview:

Lowell Bergman quit. He quit “60 Minutes.” He had a contract that he could have renegotiated to his great advantage. He scooped the Unabomber, he had gotten the show on the air and he wouldn’t couldn’t work there anymore and when I asked him why he said “I’m not going to tell the source of the next story, ‘Hang with me, you’ll be fine — maybe.'”

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