Atlanta Journal-Structure Calls for Disclaimer on Richard Jewell Over ‘Reckless’ Portrayal of Feminine Journalist

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The Atlanta Journal-Structure (AJC) has demanded a disclaimer be added to the upcoming movie Richard Jewell that acknowledges inventive license was utilized in exhibiting journalist Kathy Scruggs buying and selling intercourse for story ideas.

A letter, despatched by legal professional Martin Singer on behalf of the newspaper to director Clint Eastwood, Warner Bros. and others behind Richard Jewell, says the movie “falsely portrays the AJC and its personnel as extraordinarily reckless, using unprofessional and highly inappropriate reporting methods.” The letter claims the movie inaccurately portrays Scruggs — an actual AJC reporter who died in 2001 — as a journalist who unethically makes use of intercourse to achieve data.

“Ms. Scruggs was an experienced reporter whose methodology was professional and appropriate, in contrast to how she is portrayed in the film,” reads the letter, in response to a duplicate obtained by TIME. “She was a seasoned reporter who worked proactively within appropriate journalistic bounds. Despite the true facts, the film depicts her use of inappropriate and unprofessional reporting methods that included getting story tips from an FBI source in exchange for sexual favors.”

Richard Jewell examines the media firestorm that ensued in 1996, when a safety guard named Richard Jewell found a bomb on the Atlanta Summer season Olympics and alerted authorities to evacuate the premises. Whereas Jewell was at first praised for his heroic actions, he was later falsely accused of planting the bomb himself.

Scruggs, performed by Olivia Wilde within the movie, broke the story that Jewell was beneath FBI investigation. Within the film, Wilde’s Scruggs nabs the story by sleeping with an FBI agent performed by Jon Hamm. Based on the AJC, that by no means occurred.

“Not every newspaper finds itself portrayed in a movie, and when we did, it was very upsetting to see Kathy Scruggs portrayed in a way that demeans not just her work, but the work of the AJC,” Kevin Riley, editor of the AJC, tells TIME. “Clint Eastwood portrays journalists in a way that plays to a lot of misconceptions about how professional reporters work.”

Riley says the movie falls into a standard Hollywood trope that depicts feminine journalists as continuously prepared to bend moral traces and use intercourse to get forward — a stereotype has been on show in reveals from Home of Playing cards to Gilmore Ladies. Including salacious particulars about Scruggs does little to additional the general level of Richard Jewell, he says, calling it “lazy storytelling.”

The newspaper has requested the filmmakers to subject a press release and add a disclaimer to Richard Jewell “publicly acknowledging that some events were imagined for dramatic purposes and artistic license and dramatization were used in the film’s portrayal of events and characters.”

Representatives for Eastwood and Warner Bros. didn’t instantly return requests looking for remark. An legal professional for Billy Ray, the movie’s screenwriter, declined to remark.

Write to Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com.



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