Thursday, August 30, 2007

Richard Jewell, the security guard wrongly accused in the bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, died yesterday at 44.

Jewell had a lawsuit pending against the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for its reporting on the event, and the AJC just couldn't help but to try to make its case by shouting while standing on the dead man's grave:

After (Jewell) was cleared, Jewell sued the AJC and other media outlets for libel, arguing that their reports defamed him. Several news organizations settled, including NBC and CNN.

The Journal-Constitution did not settle. The newspaper has contended that at the time it published its reports Jewell was a suspect, so the articles were accurate. The newspaper also has asserted that it was not reckless or malicious in its reports regarding Jewell. Much of Jewell's case was dismissed last year. One claim, based on reports about a 911 call, is pending trial.

However, Jewell's death Wednesday "is not a day to consider lawsuits, rather a day to pay respect," said John Mellott, AJC publisher.

"Richard Jewell was a hero, as we all came to learn," Mellott said. "The story of how Mr. Jewell moved from a suspect in the Centennial Park bombing to recognition as a security guard who averted a greater tragedy is one The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported fully even as it defended itself in a libel suit brought by him.

So, it's not a day to consider lawsuits, John -- but it is a day to insert yourself unnecessarily into a story. Nice.

I also find it difficult to reporters Mike Morris and Jeffry Scott would have put this tripe in on their own. Did AJC management have that bit about not settling all cooked up and waiting for the day Jewell died, ready to be dropped in to the obit?


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