Good Thing Clint Eastwood Can't Libel The Dead
A long time ago, I determined that writing about art without having seen the work in question was SOME BULLSHIT, and I've tried to live by that since. But sometimes Clint Eastwood goes and calls a dead female reporter a whore, and it will remain, like most of Eastwood's ouevre, unforgiven.
I haven't watched a Clint Eastwood movie since the sadist lovingly lingered on a small boy getting ax murdered to bitses in a chicken coop in the Angelina Jolie vehicle Changeling. Because he's a fucking sadist. And as Liz pointed out to me in the chat cave while we discussed his marvelous, manly filmography, "That guy is fucking filth, and if there's one thing you can say about all the Karens and Beckys of Gen X, we certainly know who not to give our money to."
Liz, as she so often is, is correct. Now about that whore reporter.
Kathy Scruggs, of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, broke the scoop that the FBI was investigating Richard Jewell in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing. It was true; they were investigating him! Jewell, a well-meaning man who wanted to be a hero and got to for a day, leaped into action after the explosion. That the FBI was wrongly focused on him, instead of the actual bomber, anti-abortion, anti-socialism, and anti-gay Eric Rudolph, who did murder for "life," was actually tragic. It probably would make for a pretty good movie!
But did you know women are whores?
Scruggs, who died young, was by all accounts what we in the biz call "hard-charging" and "hard-drinking" and "a whole fuckload of fun." The AJC has a loving remembrance of her, which you should read, and here is a paragraph from it!
For years, the hard-charging Scruggs commanded the police beat like a bullfighter. She'd zoom to crime scenes in her Mazda Miata, sometimes arriving before authorities got there, and wouldn't leave until her notebook was full.
And here are two more!
"The Suspect," a recently published nonfiction book about the 1996 bombing, is unsparing but not unfair. "Law enforcement loved her, just loved her," said co-author Kent Alexander, a former federal prosecutor.
The book does note the time police responded at 3 a.m. when Scruggs refused to get out of a taxi outside a Buckhead hotel. She was drunk, naked and sitting in the driver's seat.
Doesn't that make you want to read it some more???
So what does Clint Eastwood do with a movie-ready beauty in a miniskirt and a sports car, drinking at Manuel's and breaking news like the more sedentary among us might break a nail? Well, reportedly -- and again, I haven't seen it and I'm probably not gonna -- he makes up her fucking Jon Hamm, Federal Body Inspector, for the scoop. Just like a woman!
She couldn't just fuck Jon Hamm for the sake of fucking Jon Hamm? Apparently not. Girl reporters know how to get a story, after all, and for some reason it always seems, in Hollywood, to involve a vag. It is entirely possible there exist women who have slept with sources for a scoop. Some people are venal, whether they are men or ladies! I don't happen to know any, but I bet there's, like, at least two.
But according to everyone except this movie about how a nice man got libeled -- not by the AJC or Kathy Scruggs, whose reporting a judge affirmed as true in dismissing Jewell's libel case against them -- Kathy Scruggs did not sleep with anyone for a scoop. She is being libeled in the movie about the man who got libeled.
Ain't that a bitch.
And ain't it just exactly what you'd expect.
The people at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution are unpleased.
"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," the letter, sent to Warner Bros., Eastwood, and screenwriter Billy Ray, reads. "We further demand that you add a prominent disclaimer to the film to that effect." [...]
"I think this letter makes it clear how seriously we take the misrepresentation of our reporters' actions and of the actions of the newspaper during that time," [AJC editor Kevin Riley] said. "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 film literally makes things up and adds to misunderstandings about how serious news organizations work," said Riley. "It's ironic that the film commits the same sins that it accuses the media of committing."
Ah, but the law says you can't libel the dead. And if Clint Eastwood can sexy up his movie at the expense of a dead woman, why wouldn't he? Not when it'll get you a fistful of dollars and a few dollars more.
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