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Lowell Bergman Investigates...

Exploring the broader questions surrounding the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

May 15, 2009
Part 5: A Dangerous Job
Nigeria's former anti-corruption csar Nuhu Ribadu is a hero to many Nigerians. Forced out of office and eventually the country, Ribadu talks with Lowell Bergman about how corruption has turned Nigeria into a pariah state.
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Lowell Bergman's career spans nearly four decades and has been recognized with dozens of major journalism awards, including a Pulitzer Prize for his work with The New York Times. In 1999, he was portrayed by Al Pacino in the movie The Insider for his expose of the tobacco industry on CBS's 60 Minutes.

Bergman is a producer/correspondent for FRONTLINE and also the Reva and David Logan Distinguished Professor of Investigative Reporting at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, where he has taught a seminar dedicated to investigative reporting for more than 15 years.

His career began in the late 1960s when he worked for a weekly newspaper in San Diego, as a freelancer for Ramparts Magazine and then as an editor of Rolling Stone. In 1976, he was part of a group of reporters who investigated the assassination of Don Bolles, a reporter for The Arizona Republic, and in 1977 he was a co-founder of the Center for Investigative Reporting.

In 1983, Bergman joined CBS News as a producer for the weekly news magazine 60 Minutes, where over the course of 14 years he produced more than 50 stories on subjects ranging from organized crime, international arms and drug trafficking to terrorism and corporate crime.

After leaving CBS News as its senior investigative producer, he forged an alliance between The New York Times and FRONTLINE. Stories as part of this alliance included investigations into: corruption in Mexico [Murder, Money and Mexico (1998)]; the East Africa embassy bombings [Hunting bin Laden (original broadcast 1999; updated Sept. 13, 2001)]; the California energy crisis and the role of Enron [Blackout (2001)]; a series on the roots of 9/11 [Looking for Answers (2001); Gunning for Saddam (2001); Saudi Time Bomb? (2001)]; and subsequent stories on the terrorist threat inside the United States and Europe [The Enemy Within (2006), Al Qaeda's New Front (2005) and Chasing the Sleeper Cell (2003)].

He has received honors in both print and broadcasting, including the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, awarded to The New York Times in 2004 for A Dangerous Business, which detailed a record of egregious worker safety violations coupled with the systematic violation of environmental laws in the iron sewer and water pipe industry. That story, which appeared as both a print series and a documentary, is the only winner of the Pulitzer Prize to also be acknowledged with every major award in broadcasting.

The recipient of numerous Emmys, Bergman, as a reporter and producer, has been honored with five Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver and Golden Batons, three Peabodys, a George Polk Award, a Sidney Hillman award for labor reporting and the James Madison Freedom of Information Award for Career Achievement from the Society of Professional Journalists. Bergman graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1966 and was a graduate fellow in philosophy at the University of California, San Diego until 1970.

Al Pacino as Lowell Bergman in the film The Insider

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REACTIONS

munyaradzi jambaya - kuala lumpur, malaysia
Being an African in Asia and seeing your article on Black Money, I was fascinated by the parallels i see in my country, Zimbabwe, and the rest of Africa. I'm a managerial psychologist and it's funny, no matter how we try to inculcate the values and ethos of good practice, there is still a veil of necessary evil permitted to exist in organizations for survival. I applaud your effort and what it stands for.

Maura Lee - San Francisco, CA
Black Money is a brilliant show - I've just watched it twice and will recommend it to many people.
I've heard it said a lot recently that crisis is often opportunity. Perhaps we can finally abandon the "Shock Doctrine" and do something good for a change? The information contained in shows like this can make such a difference.Thank you, Lowell Bergman! You are truly an inspiration.

Bethlehem, PA
I saw your Black Money tonight by accident, and was fascinated. It is hard to follow exactly what goes on, this is so big. After I read more and reviewed the program online, I began to understand. Your program reminds me of some irregularities involving the Orthodox Church in America, specifically the then-Metropolitan and the then-Chancellor, a few years back, ca. 2004 involving millions of dollars, cash being carried into Russia by clerics and their staff, and Archer Daniels Midland. It was only about $5 million, small potatoes against the background of your story, but it's the same everywhere, corruption corrupts.
The whole episode in the church is still not fully explained to the faithful nor to the wider world, but left a legacy of terrible damage. Anyway, you did a fine job with this very difficult and complex topic. I appreciate your hard work.

Edmonton, Canada
The interviews in this program only scratch the surface on the cover of what should be a full investigation and forensic audit of corrupt leaders and officials in numerous corporations, government agencies and countries. Is this a surprise or as so easily dismissed by the prince as this is our way? What ever name you want to give it, bribery or corruption, human beings sell their souls for money and some are even switch hitters to defend or rationalize those actions. Unfortunately, without political will of the corrupt politicians nothing will ever be done.

Hanoi, Vietnam
We need to be aware of the culture of bribery in Vietnam, from the simple vegetable seller on the pavement to the highest echelons of government. Want anything done quickly or efficiently, one has to pay 'a little' extra.This has resulted in a morally deficient society, where deceit and lack of respect for ethical norms are usual practice.

 

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