Clint Eastwood’s film “Richard Jewell” will be released to a wide audience tomorrow, and it’s absolutely no accident that it tells the story of abuses perpetrated by the FBI and the media on an innocent man.
We are, of course, currently living the horror that Jewell lived 20 years ago — he was wrongly accused as a murderer in the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing and smeared in the media for weeks before being cleared of the crime — collectively as a nation. President Trump and his family are living it more personally. But it’s the same distortion of police work and media neutrality.
And after 20 years, there’s really no excuse for it anymore.
The below clip, of Jewell testifying before Congress about his ordeal, is a stunning window in how little things have changed. It is extraordinarily interesting in light of today’s events and problems going on at the FBI, revealed in Monday’s release of a report detailing FISA court abuses as they relate to the Russia collusion investigation.
Of particular note in the below clip: despite being cleared, Jewell says that the audit the department conducted of where it went wrong was as fallacious as the search warrant affidavits used against him.
Jewell, in his testimony a year after his ordeal, says the DOJ cannot be trusted to investigate itself.
Wow. Seriously. Go watch this testimony of Richard Jewell from 1996. Staggering especially in context of today. 20 yrs ago FBI went after a nobody. Now they go after the duly elected President of the United States. pic.twitter.com/YIzDZexINp
— Ned Ryun (@nedryun) December 12, 2019
Media outlets and legislators are taking great care to remind the public that the FBI as an agency employs many heroes and patriots, and that’s true and a very good thing to be reminded of.
But when headlines run that allege housecleaning of that agency due to malfeasance in the Russia collusion probe — which, the Attorney General has suggested may have ultimately (had it worked) been used to affect an election — are “attacks,” it makes it difficult to to believe anything has changed in 20 years.
In Eastwood’s film, I’m told the implication is that a reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution may have forced the FBI’s hand in having to clean up a PR disaster because she learned of their investigation of Jewell and put it all over the news. The FBI went with it, to their detriment.
If the modern FBI wants the public to trust it again, it needs to take the lesson and clean up its act. And stop letting the media manipulate it.