Focus: Washington

Silencing the whistleblowers

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 18 November 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1324

American tobacco companies are renowned for their ability to use the courts to stifle journalists' investigations. Earlier this year the television company ABC News was forced to apologise and pay $15m (pounds sterling10m) to two tobacco companies rather than face trial in a $10 billion lawsuit. ABC News's new investigative show, Day One, had exposed internal memos showing that tobacco companies were spiking cigarettes with higher doses of nicotine to increase their addictiveness. Last week, however, the tobacco industry won without a single cent being spent or a lawsuit openly threatened: just the possibility of a long costly lawsuit caused lawyers at CBS News to stop an interview with a former tobacco company executive.

The executive …

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