The controversy surrounding Richard Jewell is heating up.
Warner Bros. has released a statement responding to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s demand for a disclaimer saying the late journalist Kathy Scruggs (portrayed in the film by Olivia Wilde) did not sleep with an FBI source for information in real life.
“The film is based on a wide range of highly credible source material,” the studio’s statement said, according to The Daily Beast. “There is no disputing that Richard Jewell was an innocent man whose reputation and life were shredded by a miscarriage of justice. It is unfortunate and the ultimate irony that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, having been a part of the rush to judgment of Richard Jewell, is now trying to malign our filmmakers and cast. Richard Jewell focuses on the real victim, seeks to tell his story, confirm his innocence and restore his name. The AJC’s claims are baseless and we will vigorously defend against them.”
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Richard Jewell is based on the true story of how the titular security guard (played by Paul Walter Hauser) became the FBI’s prime suspect in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing, which resulted in his formerly quiet life getting upended. In the film, Scruggs is depicted attempting to trade sex with an FBI agent (played by Jon Hamm) for a tip that Jewell is the lead suspect in the case. This scene prompted AJC Editor-in-Chief Kevin Riley to speak out in defense of Scruggs, who died in 2001, and her legacy. The AJC even hired Hollywood attorney Martin D. Singer to send a letter to WB and director Clint Eastwood demanding that the filmmakers release a statement acknowledging that the portrayal of Scruggs in the film is not based on facts.
Journalists are also speaking out on social media against the depiction of a female journalist attempting to trade sex for information, especially since it did not happen in real life.
It's infuriating that movies and shows so often depict fictional female journalists sleeping with sources to get their stories.— Sarah Frier (@sarahfrier) December 9, 2019
In this movie, they're portraying a REAL REPORTER doing so, with no evidence, and she's not alive to defend herself. https://t.co/WQDK8HeMWr
Feeling quite queezy Richard Jewell movie. It’s true that journalists made mistakes. But the work of the the AJC’s Kathy Scruggs held up. And she did not sleep with her FBI source as the movie indicates. https://t.co/OZX3FPstSF— Kelly McBride (@kellymcb) December 5, 2019
The lazy, offensive, shitty way screenwriters so often treat female journalists infuriates me. Depicting women using sex to get stories is disgusting and disrespectful. It's also hacky as hell. I was planning to see this movie but not anymore. https://t.co/4T1E8At5Hb— Jeffrey Young (@JeffYoung) December 9, 2019
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. https://t.co/UvxsYXd6MK— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) December 9, 2019
STOP MAKING FICTIONAL FEMALE JOURNALISTS SLEEP WITH MEN FOR INFORMATION. WE DON'T DO THAT. NO CREDIBLE JOURNALIST DOES THAT. STOP WRITING IT.https://t.co/sL6hnsBZ2t— Celeste Headlee (@CelesteHeadlee) December 9, 2019
Hollywood has, for a long time, portrayed female journalists as sleeping with sources to do their job. It's so deeply wrong, yet they continue to do it.— Melissa Gomez (@MelissaGomez004) December 9, 2019
Disappointing that they would apply this tired and sexist trope about Kathy Scruggs, a real reporter.https://t.co/tqDolL7Wtb
When I saw Clint Eastwood’s new biopic RICHARD JEWELL, I wondered why the only character that seemed like a ridiculous invention was the journalist. Turns out that’s because she was. Seems they made up the part about her sleeping with men to land stories. https://t.co/lrm0wNjMQg— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) December 9, 2019
The slutty female journalist who sleeps with sources is a trope, which makes it boring and lazy, but also uniquely damaging to real women in the field https://t.co/890tOXLzAj— Sophie Gilbert (@sophieGG) December 9, 2019
WB did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment.