Richard Jewell, 1962-2007

Richard Jewell, the man unjustly accused of planting bombs at the 1996 Olympics, has passed away at age 44. As a security guard Jewell actually discovered a pipe bomb and helped evacuate Centennial Olympic Park before becoming the focus of wild speculation.

The best thing written about Jewell was Marie Brenner's 1997 Vanity Fair profile (PDF), a brilliant piece of journalism assigned to students when I was studying at Medill. But Jewell's name doesn't usually evoke memories of good journalism. It evokes the opposite: Nasty, herd-chasing yellow journalism that can destroy lives and reputations. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which put the mark of Cain on Jewell, can walk away from Jewell's case now having never settled with him. As for the FBI, which marked him as a "person of interest"... I can't name any mistakes they've made since then, can you?

In 2005 Nick Gillespie slammed the jail door on Eric Rudolph, the real Olympic Park Bomber. In 2006 Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue commended Jewell's heroism.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    How many years of his life do you figure were lopped off by the treatment he received?

  • stoneymonster||

  • ||

    The FBI should pay for a statute in this man's honor. The gold plating should be paid for collectively by the media. Bastards, all.

  • ||

    On Eric Rudolph's Wikipedia page:

    On March 7, 1998, Daniel Rudolph, Eric's older brother, videotaped himself cutting off one of his own hands with a radial arm saw in order to, in his words, "send a message to the FBI and the media."

    ...Come again?

  • ||

    Fuck, I'm too stupid to close a tag properly. Fuck me.

  • Larry Craig||

    Best to let the heat die down first, Warty.

  • ||

    Warty,

    Is that on YouTube?

  • Episiarch||

    Prosecutors are always so keen on charging people for felonies that they aren't responsible for (people who sell heat lamps for growing pot, guys being pursued by the cops for accident deaths)--where are the charges against the FBI and the media on this one?

    I'm not actually saying the media should be held responsible (the FBI is another story) but I want to point out the double standard.

  • lunchstealer||

    Rest in peace, Mr. Jewell.

  • shecky||

    "
    On March 7, 1998, Daniel Rudolph, Eric's older brother, videotaped himself cutting off one of his own hands with a radial arm saw in order to, in his words, "send a message to the FBI and the media."


    OKAYYY... Message received loud and clear...

    *wtf?*

  • ||

    He will be known forever as the person falsely accused for bombing an Olympic Park. God bless Richard A. Jewell and his family.

  • ||

    R.I.P. Richard Jewel, and fuck the FBI/media.

  • Doctor Duck||

    send a message to the FBI and the media

    And that message is: "I'm a loopy-ass one-handed mortar forker"

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    "On March 7, 1998, Daniel Rudolph, Eric's older brother, videotaped himself cutting off one of his own hands with a radial arm saw in order to, in his words, "send a message to the FBI and the media."

    Can anybody verify this? I went back to Wikipedia to check this out and it was removed. Perhaps this was a rumor that had been debunked?

  • ||

    Richard Jewell was lucky in a way: the case was ultimately solved. Once a person is named as a quasi-suspect, only positive proof of innocence suffices to restore a reputation.

  • M||

    Paragraph #4, sentence #2 ff. hier.

  • Scooby||

    PIRS,

    click link on my name for short contemporary CNN story on the amputation

  • ||

    Marie Brenner's linked story is very depressing. Is there anyone remotely competent in our government? I'm pretty sure I could be just as incompetent for a much lower salary. Privatize!

  • ||

    Richard Jewell was lucky in a way: the case was ultimately solved. Once a person is named as a quasi-suspect, only positive proof of innocence suffices to restore a reputation.

    Excellent point Max. How many Richard Jewell's are there doing time for much less notorious cases that never received the attention this one did? If it had been anything less dramatic than a bombing at the Olympics he'd have lived out his days in a prison cell.

  • ||

    Holy shit! The AJC spends half of Jewell's obituary crowing about how they didn't have to pay him for publishing an anonymous smear. "Don't blame us, we're just stenographers!"

    I guess they were too lazy to drive out and piss on his grave. I can hardly wait for the obits of Wen Ho Lee and Steven Hatfill.

  • ||

    All the good, 24-watching, Michelle Malkin-reading, Red State Americans who think racial profiling is a really good idea when confronting terrorism need to hear the name Richard Jewell on a daily basis.

  • ||

    Was Steven Hatfill cleared?

  • ||

    Was Steven Hatfill cleared?

    Not to my knowledge. But he hasn't been arrested, either, which is why they normally hold pressers announcing that "suspects" are in custody.

    If he's innocent, it's likely he will go to his grave with this cloud hanging over him.

  • ||

    What kind of moron cuts his hand off with a radial arm saw? Everyone knows that a band saw is the civilized choice.

  • ||

    If he's innocent, it's likely he will go to his grave with this cloud hanging over him.

    Incidentally, the FBI's very showy interest in Hatfill began just days after a scientist critical of the FBI, who fingered Hatfill (not by name, at least not in public) as a likely suspect, testified before Congress. A coincidence? Or was the destruction of Hatfill a PR move? (It worked, by the way - criticism of the FBI abated).

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    Thanks to M and Scooby for the links.

  • ||

    My thoughts are with him and his family, and a blight on the damned Atlanta paper for the pain they caused. The only bright spot in this sorry tale is that Free Republic wasn't in business yet so they couldn't be calling for him to be waterboarded into a confession. I propose that somebody collect money to found the "Richard Jewell Center for Legal Services to the Wrongly Accused."

  • ||

    Even now, the obituaries identify him as "the man wrongly suspected of the bombing" rather than "the man whose actions saved dozens of lives". Poor guy.

  • ||

    Sad to hear he passed away so young. I kind of like the idea that we have a workaday guy who will go down in history as a guy who did his job properly and will now live on to remind us that the government and media are not only imperfect, but sleazy as hell. He's the modern day Alamo, at least for this particular issue. Peace to that guy.

  • ||

    Richard Jewell was lucky in a way: the case was ultimately solved. Once a person is named as a quasi-suspect, only positive proof of innocence suffices to restore a reputation.


    Sorta like the Duke Lacrosse team rapists.

  • ||

    All the good, 24-watching, Michelle Malkin-reading, Red State Americans who think racial profiling is a really good idea when confronting terrorism need to hear the name Richard Jewell on a daily basis.

    Was Jewell racially profiled?

  • Underzog||

    If Ceaser is who I remember him to be, this is the first and last time I'll ever agree with him.

    "There's no need to fear. Underzog is here!"

  • ||

    All the good, 24-watching, Michelle Malkin-reading, Red State Americans...

    This kind of profiling, on the other hand, is acceptable.

  • ||

    In before joe says "I totally did that on purpose to show how stupidly wrong profiling is."

  • ||

    I'll always credit Richard Jewell as the man who caused the police to replace the term "suspect" with th phrase "person of interest".

    RIP, Richard.

    CB

  • ||

    Just like the Duke rape case, the narative was right but the facs were wrong. The narative in the media is always that white men are innately evil and suspect, especially a white man who didn't go to the right school, doesn't have much money and lives with his mother. The sad fact is that the media if they were honest doesn't regret what they did to Jewell. In their minds, Jewell by virtue of being white, lower middle class and male, clearly did something wrong they just happened to guess the wrong thing.

  • ||

    No shit joe, I see what you're saying. The media profiles Southern white boys, imagine it as government sanctioned policy.

  • ||

    That park should have his name on it. And not just because Jewell Park sounds better than Centelnnial Olympic Park. Honestly, how many people did he save from injury or death? Ten? Twenty? A hundred? After all the shit he went through, that's what his life should really be remembered for.

  • jon||

    I misspelled "Centennial" but I blame the keyboard.

  • ||

    Was Steven Hatfill cleared?

    Were you? Is there any better reason for suspecting Hatfill than you?

    How many years of his life do you figure were lopped off by the treatment he received?

    HFCS killed Jewell, not FBI. KO was the accomplice, not AJC. I mean, maybe no third parties deserve any of the blame, but if you are going to blame 3d parties, at least blame the correct ones. Selling your KO stock is not a bad idea either, perhaps as a sort of penance in memory of Jewell.

  • VM||

    jon -

    Hier in Chicago, there's a chain of grocery stores named after him!

    [whisper whisper]

    oh. coinky-dink. Never mind.

  • ||

    That park should have his name on it. And not just because Jewell Park sounds better than Centelnnial Olympic Park. Honestly, how many people did he save from injury or death? Ten? Twenty? A hundred? After all the shit he went through, that's what his life should really be remembered for.

    Ya know, this is a really good idea. It won't "fix" anything but as symbolic gestures go at least it transforms "us" from saying that Jewell was a murderer to a hero.

  • ||

    The narative in the media is always that white men are innately evil and suspect

    This goofy remark reminds me of the Monty Burns line from the Simpson Movie: "At last, the rich white man has the advantage!"

  • ||

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which put the mark of Cain on Jewell, can walk away from Jewell's case now having never settled with him.

    But let's face it, if you disagree with the way the AJC handled the Jewell situation you should simply stop buying their paper. Let the market solve all problems instead of getting the courts and government involved.

  • robc||

    joe,

    I read your misplaced comment in the other thread that was supposed to be here.

    If you had read the posted links, you would realize you are wrong. (I realized the appropriate posted link is 32 pages long, but so what, RTFL) Jewelll fit *NO* profile. The AJC claim that he fit a profile was complete made up BS.

  • ||

    The FBI should pay for a statute in this man's honor.

    Pro libertate,
    Normally I ignore typos, but this one is pretty funny. Would this be a statute against falsely accusing heros of villainy? Maybe a statute against racially profiling white males (to placate Joe) would be in order?

  • VM||

    DanT:

    The narative in the media is always that white men are innately evil and suspect

    next time someone accuses you of a trollish comment, just trot out that line.

    Mein Gott. That's got to be the most stoopidest fucking thing ever said at H&R. And since the dickhead posts here, that's saying a lot!

  • ||

    wayne is incorrect.

    The FBI decided to concentrate on Jewell because he fit the profile of someone who would commit a crime in order to make himself a hero, including noting that most such cases involve white males of lower socio-economic status.

    This kind of profiling, on the other hand, is acceptable.

    Yes, it is. Noting that people who commit a certain type of crime are largely from a certain democgraphic, georgraphic, or other group is perfectly acceptable. The FBI profilers were right - most people who commit attention-seeking crimes, like they thought this war, do fit Jewell's profile. The problem comes when the reasoning gets turned around, and people assume that most members of that demographic group are all likely to commit that crime, or even a step further, that this individual member of that group is likely to commit that crime by virtue of his belonging to that group.

    "John is a man" is a true statement.

    "All, or almost all, Johns are men" is a true statement.

    "Therefore, all men are John" is a fasle statement.

    "Therefore, most men are John" is a false statement.

    "Therefore, this man is John" is a false statement.

    Thank you for the opportunity to clarify this common misunderstanding.

  • ||

    The FBI decided to concentrate on Jewell because he fit the profile of someone who would commit a crime in order to make himself a hero, including noting that most such cases involve white males of lower socio-economic status.

    Unlike most crimes, which are primarily committed by Harvard graduates?

    If you read the Vanity Fair piece, it's pretty clear that the "profile" business was a media invention. Even the FBI is not that stupid.

  • ||

    I guess what it boils down to is this: Jewell fit a profile that indicated he was the sort of person who might have done the bombing. By coincidence, he was at the scene of the crime and found a bomb. Fair enough, your cynical cop suspicions are stimulated.

    The wrong that was done is that Jewell was not properly treated after he was cleared.

  • ||

    This kind of profiling, on the other hand, is acceptable. Yes, it is. Noting that people who commit a certain type of crime are largely from a certain democgraphic, georgraphic, or other group is perfectly acceptable.



    So, it is OK to treat young, Arab, Muslim men with greated suspicion and to more thoroughly search them at airport security checks?

  • robc||

    joe,

    The FBI decided to concentrate on Jewell because he fit the profile of someone who would commit a crime in order to make himself a hero, including noting that most such cases involve white males of lower socio-economic status.

    Did you read the fucking link? It says that that profile doesnt exist, because they only had one similar case and it wasnt that similar. You cant build a profile from a single data point. You are repeating the AJC's lies.

  • robc||

    Wayne,

    I guess what it boils down to is this: Jewell fit a profile that indicated he was the sort of person who might have done the bombing

    As Max, myself, and the Vanity Fair piece keep trying to point out, this is false. Jewell fit no profile.

  • ||

    "As Max, myself, and the Vanity Fair piece keep trying to point out, this is false. Jewell fit no profile."

    My apologies. I did not read the article, I just took Joe's word for it.

  • ||

    Jeebus, wayne, what's the matter with you?

    You ask, "So, it is OK to treat young, Arab, Muslim men with greated suspicion and to more thoroughly search them at airport security checks?"

    After quoting a statement from me that was followed with "The problem comes when the reasoning gets turned around, and people assume that most members of that demographic group are all likely to commit that crime, or even a step further, that this individual member of that group is likely to commit that crime by virtue of his belonging to that group."

    C'mon, wayne. If you really try, you can figure our how I might answer your question.

  • ||

    Joe,

    If it is OK to profile people, then presumably it is OK to "act" on those profiles, else why bother profiling in the first place? I was surprised to see you say that it is "OK to profile".

  • ||

    Yes, CNN reported that Daniel Rudolph had, indeed, cut off his hand with a saw, (last paragraph.)

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement