Olivia Wilde plays reporter that broke Richard Jewel story
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Olivia Wilde plays reporter that broke Richard Jewell story

By Melissa Darling

Contributing Writer for Telegraph Local | See LinkedIn

Olivia Wilde is playing a very important role for not only a controversial topic, but also for the time that we are living in currently. Wilde is playing the part of Kathy Scruggs, a reporter most well known for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Bombing piece that she did. The reason this was Scruggs most well-known and extremely sensitive piece is because she broke the story on security guard Richard Jewell, played by Paul Walter Hauser. Jewell was considered, at first, to be the hero of the story for saving lives during the 1996 Atlanta Olympic bombing, but Scruggs blew open the story that he was actually FBI’s prime suspect. Scruggs tip was given to her by an FBI agent, and the story immediately went viral, destroying Richard Jewell’s reputation. The explosive killed one and injured over a hundred people.

Clint Eastwood, director of this film, and the cast has had to handle some controversial backfire on some elements within the movie. The main backlash concerning how Scruggs got her information on Jewell in the first place. In the movie we see Wilde, playing Scurggs, offer to sleep with Tom Shaw, played by Jon Hamm, who is a federal agent in order to get her information on the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. We don’t actually see these two together, but is implied here. Therefore the movie ultimately is suggesting that Scruggs had sex with an FBI agent in order to gather the information she was after. PEOPLE recently went to Kevin Riley, the editor Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where Scruggs worked. Riley told them there’s “no evidence,” to support this implication. Although Riley did not work at Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the same time as Scruggs, he feels that this portrayal is harmful to a journalist. Everyone regarded her as “a really great reporter who was just tireless in terms of developing her sources.”

In order to defend the performance, Wilde stated “I have a lot of respect for Kathy Scruggs and I find her to be a very complex person and character. Of course, the movie is not a documentary and Billy Ray’s script takes a certain perspective on it and I did not write it or direct it, but in doing my job I did a lot of research on Kathy Scruggs. I found her to be a really interesting and intelligent and funny and complicated woman who found herself at the centre of a scandal that was the result of mistakes made by several different people – those in law enforcement and in the media.”

According to Boston Herald, Scruggs had a great relationship with the police and the FBI. She was famously known for getting to crime scenes before anyone else because she felt she was also serving an important purpose. Once Jewell got cleared from the FBI, he filed for multiple libel suits, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution included. Wilde said “Kathy was clearly the scapegoat,” regarding the aftermath, “There was a lot of pressure for her to give up her source and she never did.” Kathy Scruggs has since passed, but her story lives on. She was a passionate and dedicated woman of her work, and this story now tells the tale.

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