What it's about: Security guard Richard Jewell was considered a hero of the 1996 Olympic Games after he discovered three pipe bombs in a backpack during a concert at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. He alerted authorities and helped evacuate as many people as possible before it detonated, killing two and injuring 111. The world turned quickly on Jewell, though, as he became the FBI’s prime suspect for fitting the profile of the lone bomber. He was unfairly investigated by the media, resulting in damaging and often incomplete and inaccurate reports about his character and personal life. Jewell was eventually exonerated and won suits against many of the outlets responsible, but he could never get his life back. He died at 44.
What it’s really about: Trial by media, and our ability to tear a man apart out of fear. According to Jewell's lawyer, Lin Wood, "The FBI was under a lot of pressure to tell the world 'We got our man' while the world was still watching." It made those at the Olympics feel safe again, it made security, law enforcement, and the Games' organizers look strong and capable, and it made the journalists appear authoritative and diligent. But the film gives the last word to Jewel: "In their mad rush to fulfill their own personal agendas, the FBI and the media almost destroyed me and my mother," he said. "I thank God it is now ended and that you now know what I have known all along. I am an innocent man."
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