Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center loves the new Clint Eastwood film about Richard Jewell, the security guard who was initially suspected -- wrongly, as it turned out -- of involvement in the bombing at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, in no small part because it fits the MRC's anti-media narrative.
Right-wing film critic Christian Toto was given space at the MRC to hype it: an October post a month and a half before the film's release hyped Eastwood's alleged courage it making a film that was "casting a critical eye on reporters, and a Nov. 23 post gushed at how the film "savages the mainstream press." Meanwhile, in a Dec. 5 post, P.J. Gladnick mocked a writer who pointed out that the film plays into Trump's (and the MRC's) anti-media talking points. Tim Graham and Brent Bozell also cheered the film and invoked it to push bogus "fake news" attacks on the media.
But Eastwood's film has fake news too: Without evidence, it pushes the inflammatory idea that a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kathy Scruggs, slept with an FBI agent in exchange for information.And the MRC is defending the lie.
Kristine Marsh did so with a bit of whataboutism in a Dec. 10 post: "The idea that reporters have traded sexual favors with sources to get information is not a wild conspiracy theory. There have been a number of cases just this year where female reporters from The New York Times, CNBC and MSNBC have been implicated in reporting on classified information they received from the government officials they were in relationships with." But Marsh didn't address the fact that there's absolutely no evidence that Scruggs ever did so.
Gladnick got mad at the Journal-Constitution for demanding that the movie carry a disclaimer pointing out that things in the film are not accurate, including the portrayal of Scruggs, giving a "dramatic license" pass the MRC wouldn't grant if the character in question had been a conservative:
Dramatic license? What a novelty. Has that ever been done before...except in just about every historical or biographical film of the past, or present? Like the composite character played by Margot Robbie in the anti-Fox News movie Bombshell?
Since [film character] Tom Shaw is a composite FBI character, would it actually make the Atlanta Journal Constitution feel better if there were a prominent disclaimer in the movie that says something like, "The reporter did not have implied sexual relations with a composite FBI character"?
Of course, that could make things worse for the newspaper by causing viewers to burst out laughing at their expense. The real life Richard Jewell who had to live through the hell of an allegation, promoted by the AJC, that he was a suspect in the Centennial Olympic Park bombing even though it quickly became apparent that was false.
Gladnick was also mad that the Journal-Constitution won the defamation lawsuit Jewell had filed against it.
Clay Waters also gave a dramatic-license pass to Eastwood by noting that a New York Times reporter "admits the movie “follows the standard practice for movies based on real-life events by taking liberties with certain facts....” Then he lets a source, Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute, throw in ageist insults against Eastwood." Hew then huffed that "in 2016 the paper sneered at those who would fact-check films based on true stories."
On Dec. 16, Alexa Moutevelis touted how the film's attack on the media is "in favor of the right." She mentioned that the film told a "lie" about Scruggs -- then never discussed it again, again crowing that Eastwood "justifiably knocks the media."
Apparently, the MRC is totally cool with false smears as long as it's people they despise -- in this case, any journalist who's not a right-wing sycophant -- being smeared.
(Image via Slate)