- Getty/Alberto E. Rodriguez
- An attorney for Morgan Freeman has sent a letter to CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, demanding the retraction of a CNN report in which eight women accused the actor of inappropriate behavior, including sexual harassment.
- In the letter, obtained by multiple outlets on Tuesday, Freeman’s lawyer called the CNN report a “product of malicious intent, falsehoods, slight-of-hand, an absence of editorial control, and journalistic malpractice.”
A lawyer for Morgan Freeman is demanding the retraction of a CNN report published last week in which eight women accused the actor of inappropriate behavior, including sexual harassment.
Freeman’s attorney, Robert M. Schwartz, sent a 10-page letter to CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, saying that CNN’s report “defamed” and “inflicted serious injury” on Freeman and his career. The letter was obtained by multiple outlets on Tuesday, including Variety and Deadline.
“At a minimum, CNN immediately needs to issue a retraction and apologize to Mr. Freeman through the same channels, and with the same level of attention, that it used to unjustly attack him on May 24,” Schwartz wrote.
Schwartz wrote that his law firm had begun an investigation into the report, which he called a “product of malicious intent, falsehoods, slight-of-hand, an absence of editorial control, and journalistic malpractice.”
The attorney wrote that Chloe Melas, a CNN reporter who cowrote the report and accused Freeman of making inappropriate comments about her appearance at a press junket last year, had “no reasonable basis” to interpret what Freeman said to her as harassment.
Melas said Freeman told her during a 2017 interview when she was six months pregnant, among other comments, that “you are ripe.”
“The videotape confirms that his statement had nothing to do with her and was not harassing,” Schwartz wrote, according to Deadline. “And an independent third party, the Warner Bros. Human Resources Department, investigated her claim and concluded that it was not supported by the facts.”
Among the seven other accusers in the report, an unnamed production assistant who worked on the set of the 2017 movie “Going in Style” said she experienced several months of sexual harassment from Freeman on the film’s set, including unwanted touching and comments. The woman said Freeman “kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear.”
“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,” Schwartz continued. “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.”
Freeman responded to the CNN report in a statement on Thursday, saying, “I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected – that was never my intent.” He followed up with another statement on Friday, adding: “I did not create unsafe work environments. I did not assault women. I did not offer employment or advancement in exchange for sex. Any suggestion that I did so is completely false.”
A CNN representative sent the following statement to Business Insider on Tuesday in response to the letter from Freeman’s lawyer:
“The unfounded accusations made by Mr. Freeman’s lawyer are disappointing and are difficult to reconcile with Mr. Freeman’s own public statements in the aftermath of the story. CNN stands by its reporting and will respond forcefully to any attempt by Mr. Freeman or his representatives to intimidate us from covering this important public issue.”
Read the attorney’s full letter at Deadline.