Clint Eastwood's 'Richard Jewell' criticised for suggesting reporter traded sex for information

Gregory Wakeman
Olivia Wilde in Richard Jewell

Clint Eastwood’s latest movie Richard Jewell hasn’t yet been released in the United States, but it has already been criticised by the editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for suggesting that its former reporter Kathy Scruggs offered to trade sex for information about the 1996 Olympics bombing in Atlanta. 

Scruggs is portrayed by Olivia Wilde in Richard Jewell, which tells the story of the titular character, who found the bomb and had the immediate area evacuated immediately, only to become a suspect. 

Kevin Riley, who is the editor in chief of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, criticised the aforementioned scene, which is between Wilde and Jon Hamm’s FBI agent, because “there is no evidence that this ever happened,” while he also told Indiewire that suggesting so is “offensive and deeply troubling in the #MeToo era.”

Director Clint Eastwood poses at the premiere for the movie "Richard Jewell" in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

He also went on to call Scruggs, who died at the age of 42 in 2001, “an aggressive reporter and committed journalist who sought always to beat her competition,” while also pointing out that she was the “AJC reporter who got the initial information that law enforcement was pursuing Jewell.”

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Riley felt the need to call out Richard Jewell on this subject, because “perpetuating false tropes about female reporters and journalism itself shouldn’t go unchallenged in a time when our profession finds itself under almost constant attack.”

Richard Jewell and his mother Barbara, face the media as Jewell's attorney Lin Wood addressed the press conference in Marietta, Ga., Monday, Oct. 28, 1996. (AP Photo/Ric Feld)

Richard Jewell was screened for journalists earlier this month, and the early reviews for it have been mostly positive.

In fact, there has even been some chatter that its leading stars Paul Walter Hauser, and co-stars Kathy Bates and Sam Rockwell, could become Oscar contenders. 

We’ll get to see if that’s true when Richard Jewell is released in the UK on January 31, 2020.