CNN is in hot water over one of their fake news stories – but for once, it’s not about President Trump. The news network appears to have stretched the truth in an “expose” on sexual harassment accusations against a Hollywood actor.
Actor Morgan Freeman is facing allegations that he has routinely harassed women he comes into contact with. CNN claims reporters and women who worked with him have been subjected to his inappropriate behavior.
He recently faced other allegations of sexual misconduct, when it was revealed that he was having an affair with his adopted granddaughter, who was later murdered.
However, Freeman’s attorney has sent a letter to CNN demanding a retraction, saying the video clips they showed in their report as proof of his bad behavior are taken out of context. They accuse CNN of journalistic malpractice and threaten to sue, claiming complete innocence.
Freeman, a vocal Democrat, has been politically active for years, and even recorded a video in which advocated for President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal. He has spoken out in favor of the #MeToo movement.
Morgan Freeman’s lawyer demanded Tuesday that CNN retract a story accusing the 80-year-old movie star of multiple cases of sexual harassment.
“We presented CNN with objective evidence, including videotapes and on-the-record denials by the claimed ‘victims,’ that the alleged incident that gave rise to the story never happened,” lawyer Robert Schwartz said in a statement.
In a letter sent to the television news network, the lawyer accused CNN of “malicious intent, falsehoods, sleight-of-hand, an absence of editorial control and journalistic malpractice.”
Schwartz said in a later statement that “we proved to CNN, beyond any doubt, that the whole story was built on fakery. The credibility of the entire CNN attack on Mr Freeman has now been undermined.”
Sixteen people — eight of whom say they were victims — last week described to CNN a range of troubling behavior by Freeman on production sets or promotional tours.
The actor issued a quick apology after the report was published.
“Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy,” Freeman said in a statement.
“I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.”
One of the journalists featured in the story, Tyra Martin, said her comments are being taken out of context by CNN, and said her experiences with Freeman have been largely professional.
Indeed, it appears by the nature of some of the accusations, some of the harassment could be classified by many people as just cheeky behavior, without malicious intent.
Others featured in the story stand by their statements.
One of the journalists behind the CNN report, Chloe Melas, said her own encounter with Freeman, when she was six-months pregnant, prompted her to produce the piece.
She said that during a press conference for the 2017 movie “Going in Style,” Freeman looked her up and down and said “Boy, I wish I was in there.”
Many who watched the video clip of Freeman’s remark (included in the video below) said he is obviously referring to Michael Caine (who is sitting next to him in the video), who had just remarked about apologizing after mistaking a woman to be pregnant.
The article also quoted an unnamed production assistant on the same film who accused Freeman of massaging the small of her back without her consent, and of trying tried to lift her skirt while asking if she was wearing underwear.
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in Hollywood, the veteran actor is already facing the fallout from the accusations, including the possible withdrawal of a Lifetime Achievement Award he was given earlier this year by the Screen Actors Guild.
In his letter, Schwartz accused Melas of “baiting and prodding” a number of “so-called witnesses” to malign Freeman.
Despite his initial apology, Freeman later issued a denial of the claims against him.
“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,” he said.
Here is video of CNN’s report on the allegations against Freeman.
CNN stands by the story, telling the Daily Mail “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.”