Richard Jewell is being criticized for implying that a female journalist traded sex for information. Journalist Kathy Scruggs is played by Olivia Wilde in Clint Eastwood's latest biopic. Scruggs is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter who originally broke the news that Richard Jewell was the main suspect in the Centennial Olympic Park bombing on July 27th, 1996. The movie premiered last night and has raised a few questions in regard to how exactly Scruggs was able to get Jewell's name from the FBI over 23 years ago.
In Richard Jewell there is a scene in which Olivia Wilde's Kathy Scruggs offers to sleep with FBI agent Tom Shaw, who is played by Jon Hamm, in exchange for information about the Centennial Olympic Park Bombing. While no sex is shown on the big screen, it is implied that the two had sex. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's current editor-in-chief Kevin Riley says there is no evidence that Scruggs did that for information in real-life. "There has never been any evidence that this is how Kathy got the story," says Riley. "This came out of the blue."
Kathy Scruggs passed away in 2001 after overdosing on prescription pills. While the movie is based on true events, Clint Eastwood takes some artistic license with some of the storytelling, which is what all biopics do. However, the trading sex for a story element of the movie is not being responded to very well, especially since Scruggs isn't around to tell her side of the story. The element of a female reporter trading her body for a story is not sitting well with viewers. As of this writing, Eastwood has yet to release a statement on the matter.
Richard Jewell tells the story of how the man went from Being a hero to a bombing suspect in a matter of days. Jewell was working as a security guard at the 1996 Summer Games when he discovered a backpack. The backpack contained pipe bombs and Jewell helped to notify authorities to clear the area. One of the bombs ended up going off, which killed one person and injured over a dozen more people. Kathy Scruggs was the first one to report Jewell's name when the FBI started their investigation, which turned the security guard's life upside down. After 3 months, the FBI concluded that it would have been impossible for Jewell to have been the one responsible for the bombing.
However, the damage had already been done to Richard Jewell's life. He ended up suing a number of news outlets, including CNN, NBC, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was able to win all of the suits, except for the Atlanta Journal-Journal constitution suit, which went on until 2011 at which time the Georgia Court of Appeals rejected the case. Jewell passed away in 2007 due to health-related issues. The Hollywood Reporter was the first to announce the Richard Jewell controversy.