Morgan Freeman’s lawyer has asked CNN to apologize and retract its recent story accusing the actor of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.
Us Weekly obtained a letter that attorney Robert M. Schwartz sent to the network’s president, Jeff Zucker, on Tuesday, May 29, that claims the Thursday, May 24, report “was the product of malicious intent, falsehoods, slight-of-hand, an absence of editorial control and journalistic malpractice.”
“CNN has inflicted serious injury on [Freeman’s] reputation and career,” the letter reads. “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.”
Schwartz claims that one of the accusers, CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas, was motivated by personal bias and “baited and prodded supposed ‘witnesses’ to say bad things about” the Oscar winner, 80, in the article, which she coauthored with An Phung.
In the story, Melas accused Freeman of looking her up and down and making inappropriate comments toward her when she interviewed him about his 2017 movie Going in Style while six months pregnant.
The movie star’s attorney also notes that another accuser, Tyra Martin, claimed after the story’s publication that “CNN misrepresented” her remarks.
In response, the network tells Us in a statement, “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.”
As previously reported, CNN spoke with 16 people who described a pattern of alleged misconduct by Freeman, with eight women claiming to be victims. The Se7en actor apologized in a statement released later on Thursday, saying, “Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy.”
He released a second statement on Friday, May 25, that said in part, “I am devastated that 80 years of my life is at risk of being undermined, in the blink of an eye, by Thursday’s media reports. … I admit that I am someone who feels a need to try to make women — and men — feel appreciated and at ease around me. As a part of that, I would often try to joke with and compliment women, in what I thought was a light-hearted and humorous way. Clearly I was not always coming across the way I intended. … But I also want to be clear: 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.”
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