Clint Eastwood’s latest movie Richard Jewell is now the center of a major controversy. The film’s plot is based on, or at least inspired by, the true story of Richard Jewell, a security guard who discovered a bomb at Centennial Olympic Park during the 1966 Summer Olympics. Originally initially hailed as a hero for discovering the bomb, when his local newspaper revealed that the FBI were investigating Jewel as a suspect, he then became the victim of a smear campaign accusing him of being the terrotist.
Richard Jewell does take a lot of liberties with its story, but critics have specifically taken issue with the movie’s depiction of Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde), a former journalist for Atlanta Journal-Constitution. According to both CNN and Vox, the movie depicts Scruggs as a villainous floozy journalist who, in one scene gets her information about the Jewel story by having sex with FBI agent Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm). Yes, this movie trots out the tired old sexist cliche of the female reporter who uses sex to get her story.
Sadly Scruggs died back in 2001 and cannot personally defend herself from the grave, but many of her friends and former colleagues have come forward to denounce the movie in her place. The Guardian reported that Kevin Riley, current editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, stated that, “No one has ever said Kathy did anything like that.” And Vox reported that a friend of her family said, “If she’s being portrayed as some floozy, it’s just not true.”
Since this movie is about a man suffering from the impact of the media’s false accusations, it is rather sad and ironic to see Richard Jewel do the same thing to Kathy Scruggs. Richard Jewell was directed by Clint Eastwood, and stars Paul Walter Hauser as the titular Richard Jewell. Other cast members in addition to Wilde and Hamm include Sam Rockwell and Kathy Bates.