An attorney representing Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman is demanding CNN retract and apologize for its bombshell report detailing multiple sexual harassment claims against the longtime Hollywood star.
In a letter addressed to the network’s president, Jeff Zucker, Robert M. Schwartz described the report as an “unjustly attack” on his client, while publishing findings from an independent investigation undertaken by Freeman’s camp.
The Hollywood Reporter published a portion of said findings.
Of the three people CNN identified as being a “victim,'” the first, CNN’s own Chloe Melas, had no reasonable basis to have interpreted what Mr. Freeman said or did at the Going In Style interview last year as having been directed at her or as any form of harassment. The videotape confirms that his statement had nothing to do with her and was not harassing. And an independent third party, the Warner Bros. Human Resources Department, investigated her claim and concluded that it was not supported by the facts.
The second person CNN identified, Tyra Martin, has gone on record twice since CNN published the article to state that CNN misrepresented what she said to CNN and that Mr. Freeman did not harass her.
The third person CNN identified, Lori McCreary, told CNN that Mr. Freeman never harassed her. And as to CNN’s gratuitous sideswipe at Ms. McCreary herself, yet another independent party investigated the claim when CNN raised it, and found it to be meritless.
Ms. Melas baited and prodded supposed “witnesses” to say bad things about Mr. Freeman and tried to get them to confirm her bias against him. Thus, no reader of the article can have any confidence that any of the anonymous sources, which make up the balance of CNN’s article, can be relied upon at all.
Last week, eight women came forward to accuse Freeman of sexual harassment, alleging the 80-year-old actor engaged in inappropriate behavior on movie sets, during interviews, and at his work office.
CNN spoke with 16 people who described several instances in which Freeman made inappropriate comments to female staffers, “eight of whom,” the news outlet reports, “said they were victims of what some called harassment and others called inappropriate behavior by Freeman.”
CNN also reported, “Eight said they witnessed Freeman’s alleged conduct. These 16 people together described a pattern of inappropriate behavior by Freeman on set, while promoting his movies and at his production company Revelations Entertainment.”