Clint Eastwood’s new film, “Richard Jewell,” about a security guard baselessly accused of setting off a backpack bomb in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympic Games, is now facing serious backlash — including calls for a national boycott — from its own villain: the mainstream media.
On Monday, the Daily Wire’s Paul Bois reported that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has demanded Eastwood put out a disclaimer ahead of the film’s release, noting to viewers that AJC reporter Kathy Scruggs, who wrote a front page story accusing Jewell of perpetrating the bombing, based, allegedly, on information from an FBI agent determined to solve the crime at all costs, did not have a physical relationship with her FBI informant, as is portrayed in the film.
“The film shows Scruggs, portrayed by Olivia Wilde, sleeping with an FBI agent (Jon Hamm) to get the story,” the Wire reported based on information from Variety magazine. “Scruggs died in 2001 at the age of 42. The paper has maintained that there is no evidence that Scruggs slept with anyone involved in the Jewell investigation.”
“In a letter, the AJC demanded that Warner Bros. release a statement clarifying some of the events depicted in the film, such as Kathy Scruggs trading sex for secrets, were dramatized. Famed Hollywood attorney Martin Singer… has been hired to represent the paper.”
Now, other journalists are piling on, The Wrap reports, begging moviegoers to boycott the film for its unfair portrayal of the media.
“One day after the Atlanta Constitution-Journal and editor Kevin Riley threatened the producers and filmmakers of Clint Eastwood’s ‘Richard Jewell’ over its accusations of ‘malicious fabrications’ in the film, calls to boycott the movie are mounting,” according to The Wrap.
“Please do not pay to see movies that feature fictional female journalists who sleep with with sources for a story. It’s an egregiously sexist, demeaning, insulting trope and at this stage I don’t see an appropriate response other than a flat-out boycott,” one Slate editor tweeted, per the entertainment news outlet, setting off a firestorm of approval among his fellow members of the press. “It’s 2019. Smart, thoughtful people have condemned this offensive trope loudly and consistently for years. They have persuasively explained why it is abhorrent. Please do not reward Clint Eastwood for deploying it. Do not pay money for RICHARD JEWELL.”
Since the first trailer for “Richard Jewell” debuted, the movie has been assailed by critics of President Donald Trump who accuse noted Republican Eastwood of pushing the President’s message that the media contrives and disseminates “fake news.” But Jewell’s dramatic story necessarily involves a portrayal of horrific media malfeasance.
When investigators were unable to locate the actual perpetrator of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic bombing, they pointed the finger at Jewell, who discovered the bomb and alerted authorities the night it was planted, likely saving countless lives in the process. The movie shows FBI investigators suggesting to members of the media that Jewell, a lifelong “loser” who lived with his mother and cycled through a series of odd jobs, planted the bomb to gain notoriety and be hailed as a hero for eventually “finding” the explosive package.
According to members of the media, simply telling Jewell’s story is somehow unfair, particularly in an age where the media has become a target of public ire. Unfortunately for them, though, they found few willing to take their side against Eastwood. Instead, others on social media simply mocked triggered reporters for their lack of self-awareness.
“This was pretty brilliant of Eastwood to write a story line about awful journalism that would lead journalists to the fainting couch about how unfair the movie was TO THEM. Enjoy all the free press, Clint,” tweeted writer Bethany Mandel.
“Man of course parts of media are trying to make a journalist the *real* smear victim in a movie about RICHARD F*****G JEWELL,” added Stephen Miller.
“Richard Jewell” opens nationally this Friday.