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Atlanta Paper's Editor Takes Issue With New Eastwood Film

'Richard Jewell' has inaccuracies about coverage of wrongfully accused bombing suspect: Kevin Riley
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2019 10:20 AM CST
This image shows writer-director Clint Eastwood, left, and actor Paul Walter Hauser during the filming of "Richard Jewell."   (Clair Folger/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

(Newser) – Clint Eastwood's newest movie, Richard Jewell, about the Atlanta security guard falsely suspected of planting a bomb at the 1996 Olympics when he actually saved lives during the chaos, is not getting rave reviews from the hometown paper. In an emailed statement to Fox News and the Wrap, Kevin Riley, editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, blasts the film for what he says are inaccuracies about the coverage the paper gave to Jewell after the blast that killed two and injured more than 100. Riley, who notes he got details on the movie from an AJC reporter who went to an advance screening, takes issue with what he says is the film's depiction of his paper using unreliable sourcing for its initial story about Jewell as a suspect, and of portraying now-deceased reporter Kathy Scruggs as having sex with an FBI agent in exchange for a news tip.

"There is no evidence that this ever happened, and if the film portrays this, it's offensive and deeply troubling in the #MeToo era," Riley says. "Kathy Scruggs ... was known as an aggressive reporter and committed journalist who sought always to beat her competition." He also says the paper proceeded meticulously, per journalistic protocol, in reporting Jewell was a suspect, and that their scoop would've soon become public knowledge anyway via law enforcement. Riley—who claims the film "disregards ... crucial facts" and has an "underlying theme ... that the FBI and press are not to be trusted"—also says the AJC was the first to challenge the investigation into Jewell, which helped lead to clearing him. Jewell died in 2007 at 44; the actual bomber, Eric Rudolph, is serving four life sentences without chance of parole for that bombing and others. The movie opens Dec. 13. (Read more Richard Jewell stories.)

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