Atlanta Journal-Constitution demands 'Richard Jewell' disclaimer

The AJC has demanded acknowledgement from Warner Bros. that some event in the film were imagined for dramtic purposes

Atlanta Newspaper Threatens Defamation Suit Over Depiction In ‘Richard Jewell’

Scruggs, who died in 2001, was working at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution when she broke a story that the FBI was investigating Jewell, a security guard who came under suspicion for orchestrating the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in 1996 after he spotted and reported a pipe bomb was that had been left in a bag near a large crowd. Even if you're familiar with the story, Hootnick's enthralling look back at this fascinating event is the flawless streaming companion to Clint Eastwood's film.

Jewell had discovered the bomb, and subsequently helped evacuate the immediate area.

A new book, "The Suspect", attempts to bring clarity to the aftermath of the bombing. Scruggs broke the story that the FBI was investigating Jewell; after her report, his reputation was tarnished by negative press coverage. Comedian Jay Leno said Jewell bore a "scary resemblance to the guy who whacked Nancy Kerrigan", and the New York Post labeled him "a fat, failed former sheriff's deputy". He was later exonerated and Eric Rudolph was identified as the bomber. Serving four life sentences, he now sits in a Supermax in Colorado.

Jewell was initially hailed as a hero for finding the bomb.

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Olivia Wilde, an outspoken liberal, drew criticism from some reporters for taking the Scruggs role.

Scruggs had solid sources and the story had been through several editors, Martz said. "The accuracy of the story had also been confirmed with an Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesperson to whom the entire story was read before publication".

But Martz said he regrets not pushing for clearer attribution on the original story, which could have spared the paper much grief with the addition of just five words: "according to law enforcement sources". Most settled, but the Journal-Constitution didn't. Jewell died a year later at age 44. The courts ultimately ruled the newspaper's stories weren't libelous because they were substantially true when published.

Wilde, meanwhile, has defended the portrayal of Scruggs, telling Variety recently, "I think it's a shame that she has been reduced to one inferred moment in the film". She was famous to getting to crime scenes before the police. She was a seasoned reporter who worked proactively within appropriate journalistic bounds. She died at 42 in 2001 from an overdose of prescription drugs.

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"We have been clear about how disturbed we are in the film's use of a Hollywood trope about reporters...and how it misrepresents how seriously journalists concern themselves with reporting accurately and ethically".

The letter goes on to demand, "Accordingly, we hereby demand that you immediately issue a statement 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". "'Richard Jewell' focuses on the real victim, seeks to tell his story, confirm his innocence and restore his name".

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has sent Warner Bros, the banner behind Clint Eastwood-directed drama Richard Jewell, a legal notice over the portrayal of a female journalist in the film.

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