The media would inevitably try to push back against Clint Eastwood’s latest movie, “Richard Jewell.” The gentlemen and ladies of the press are unaccustomed to being depicted as the heavies in a motion picture.
The problem is the depiction of the media as a pack of rabid dogs, hell-bent on destroying a man’s life in the movie, based on a flimsy profile that was leaked from the FBI, is pretty dead-on accurate.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, one of the media outlets that was one of the worst offenders in the savaging of Jewell on the false charge that he planted the bomb that almost took the lives of many people at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, is itself outraged by the depiction of one of its own. It has sent a letter to Eastwood demanding a disclaimer.
“A letter from Los Angeles-based law firm Lavely & Singer sent Monday on behalf of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Cox Enterprises, its parent corporation, takes strong exception to elements of the upcoming film ‘Richard Jewell,’ particularly its portrayal of late AJC reporter Kathy Scruggs.
“The movie version of Scruggs, played by Olivia Wilde, is depicted as someone who relies on illicit liaisons with sources to gain information.”
The letter claimed that the movie depicts the newspaper as having condoned the notion of trading sex for information, which it says is entirely false. It demands that a disclaimer be added to the movie to the effect that the offending scene was added for dramatic purposes and that, in reality, it never took place.
The letter also claims that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution did not defame Jewell at the time.
“Within days of the July 1996 bombing, investigators came to focus on Jewell. The AJC was first to report, accurately, that the FBI considered him a suspect. Authorities questioned Jewell, searched his and his mother’s belongings and kept him under round-the-clock surveillance before publicly clearing him about three months later.”
The letter also notes that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was one of the numerous media organizations that were sued by Jewell for defamation. The AJC was the only media entity that did not settle. In 2011, long after Jewell’s death at age 44, a court found for the newspaper, stating that its reporting was “substantially true at the time of publication.”
Eastwood, according to ABC News, was not surprised at the response from the AJC. “I think the Atlanta Journal (sic) probably would be the one group that would be sort of complex about that whole situation because they are the ones who printed the first thing of there being a crime caused by Richard Jewell. And so they’re probably looking for ways to rationalize their activity. “
The problem with the heated defenses of the media of its coverage of the Richard Jewell affair is that the FBI pointed to Jewell as a suspect was not based on anything in the way of evidence, but on a profile that depicted him as a person likely to have planted the bomb himself and then arranging to find it so that he could be a hero.
By the time the FBI had cleared Jewell, the security guard had found his life in ruins, having been depicted as a weirdo who wanted to be both a terrorist and the person who stopped the terrorist attack.
What about the depiction of Scruggs, who has also passed away, as someone who would trade sexual favors for information? The depiction was likely a dramatic license. Spectator USA is having none of the complaints, pointing out that those kinds of transactions happen all the time.
The New York Times recently revealed that one of its reporters, Ali Watkins, carried on a long-term affair with James Wolfe, a senior aid at the Senate Intelligence Committee and a source of many of her stories.
An employee at the Defense Intelligence Agency was recently arrested for leaking classified information to two reporters, one of them allegedly Amanda Macias with whom he was involved romantically.
The article does state that no evidence exists one way or the other that Scruggs did that or that even most female journalists engage in the practice. The good ones do not need to exchange sex for information. However, the idea that sex for scoops never happens is as much fake news as to how Richard Jewell was depicted over 20 years ago.