Kathleen “Kathy” Scruggs was a reporter who was present for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who did the story about how the FBI was investigating the security guard Richard Jewell. They believe Richard Jewell was a suspect in the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic bombing.

The hot article – titled “FBI Suspects ‘Hero’ Guard May Have Planted Bomb” – triggered a spark in the media around Jewell. Many people believe the article really put Jewell in a bad place where he never really recovered. Even after the surrounding suspicion was cleared by the FBI. The damage that the article has done was really severe even to this day people still remember it.

Furthermore, with the release of the Manhunt: Deadly Games, the Atlanta bombing incident got brought up again. Manhunt is basically what you need to watch if you want to know more about Scruggs and the bombing itself. Including how she died and how she too never fully recovered from the Atlanta bombing incident. In the series, Carla Gugino plays the journalist Kathy Scruggs.

How Scruggs died in 2001

Kathy Scruggs was a famous reporter known for her solid reporting. Many people knew her as the reporter who covered much important news and a great relationship with the local authorities back in the 1990s. She was also known as a reporter who loved to play and party hard, but it was a rumor people created after she created the hot headline directed at Jewell.

The sad thing is that Scruggs never really recovered from the Atlanta bombing debacle. It drove her to depression, and she was relying on drugs to make her feel better. At least, until she overdoes on morphine in 2001. The coroner reported that they could not determine if it was suicidal or accidental. But then several of Scruggs’s friends came out with a statement that said Scruggs was never really recovered from what happened with Jewell.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Kathy Scrugg, the debacle crushed her and destroyed her life. According to the report, Scruggs refused to reveal where she got her news from that Jewell was a suspect. Even when she was facing litigation over her article. Although, it was later revealed by the Georgia Court of Appeals that the articles in their entirety were factually true by the time they were published.

However, the dismissal may be deemed too late, as it came out 10 years after Scruggs died. This is a shame because her friends believed that the stress over the story was the main cause of her failing health. Scruggs’s close friend, Lisa Griffin also revealed that shortly before Scruggs died she was soulless and empty.

Manhunt: Deadly Games

In the 2019 Clint Eastwood film about the Atlanta bombing, Scruggs was portrayed as a sly reporter who slept with her sources for scoops. People who personally Scruggs really condemned this negative portrayal of her. They said that Scruggs was the real deal when it comes to being a dedicated reporter. And the portrayal of her in the film was completely false and floozy.

A former AJC reporter, Ron Martz, was worried that the film is going to turn Scruggs into some sort of femme fatale character who would do anything to get a story. He added that the portrayal was completely untrue. And doesn’t tell the complete story of what the real characters were like.

So evidently the 2019 film by Clint Eastwood is completely different from the Manhunt: Dead Games series. But it wasn’t supposed to be like this. Because Gugino and the creators of the limited series Manhunt did their best to provide a bit more nuance with the character. Like when she was interviewed, Gugino said that she knew that Scruggs was known to love playing and partying. But Gugino also knew that she was known as a great reporter, first and foremost. Gugino also added that the way you look at Scruggs depends on the point of view you’re looking at it from. And that people have their own version of the truth.


Whether you agree or disagree with the series or the 2019 film, we can all agree that what happened to Scruggs was tragic. She was driven to depression and anxiety due to what happened after the Atlanta bombing. And we can also agree that she was a great reporter.