Clint Eastwood’s new film, ‘Richard Jewell,’ portrays media as ‘reckless, corrupt and immoral’

Warner Bros. Pictures

With the 2020 presidential election on the horizon and the media poised to play a pivotal role in shaping its outcome, director and legendary actor Clint Eastwood serves up the new film, “Richard Jewell.”

Continuing a trend of impeccable timing, Eastwood’s latest film “recalls how the FBI and media unfairly painted the portly security guard as the main suspect in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing,” Newsbusters noted.

One person was killed and another 111 were injured in the bombing.

Three days after the incident, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that security guard Richard Jewell, who had found the backpack containing three pipe bombs and alerted police, had become the FBI’s main suspect.

Newsbusters cited a review from The Hollywood Reporter, saying that it “savages the mainstream press.”

The FBI doesn’t fare well, either, which is of equal importance as the nation grapples with the bureau’s actions in targeting President Trump during his 2016 campaign.

THR characterized the film as a “none-too-flattering look at the ‘media lynching’ of a sad-sack security guard the press decided was responsible for a deadly bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games.”

The review also says the film, due out December 13, portrays the media as “reckless, corrupt and immoral.”

More from the THR review:

Most Hollywood films about journalism since All the President’s Men 43 years ago have taken the free press’ side, portraying it as a scruffy if noble institution essential to the well-being of democracy. Eastwood and screenwriter Billy Ray (The Hunger GamesCaptain Phillips) here take a rather different view of the Fourth Estate, portraying it as reckless, corrupt and immoral. At the center of its frenzy is the hapless and clueless Jewell, an overweight oddball who may well be the least likely leading man in any of Eastwood’s 40 — count ‘em, 40 — films as a director, but Paul Walter Hauser makes the most of it.

Then again, this is no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to media coverage of politics in America.

The list of media-generated controversies intended to drive a liberal political agenda are endless, be it the Jussie Smollett hate crime hoax or the media assault on a group of Catholic school boys.

Yet, the people behind these stories are the ones who lecture the nation on a daily basis about moral behavior.

Eastwood’s success in delivering a message about journalism and the FBI is confirmed in a review from Variety, which calls the film a “good story.”

Essentially going to bat for the media, the magazine reminds us that “Richard Jewell” is but a movie and “movies are notoriously inaccurate, taking what’s euphemistically referred to as ‘dramatic license’ to make stories more entertaining.”

“In this case, at a time when politicians have stoked public distrust of news media, and when news media have punched back by holding politicians to even stricter standards of truthfulness, does anybody want to hear what the “Hollywood elites” have to say about Richard Jewell?”

At the same time, Variety “nails” what Eastwood accomplished here, as Newsbusters noted, that being to showcase what’s happening in the media today.

“The result is undeniably compelling, a kind of modern-day ‘Ace in the Hole’ and a populist reflection of the public’s disdain for journalists and government alike, as told by a filmmaker (and let’s not forget: former mayor of Carmel, Calif.) with his finger on the pulse,” Variety reported.


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