Morgan Freeman isn’t taking these sexual harassment allegations lightly.
A lawyer for the 80-year-old Oscar-winning actor is demanding CNN issue a retraction for its report accusing Morgan of inappropriate behaviour — but the network is not backing down.
Yahoo Entertainment obtained a copy of the 10-page letter from Robert M. Schwartz addressed to Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN, which says the outlet has “defamed Mr. Freeman.”
“CNN has inflicted serious injury on his reputation and career,” the letter states.
“At a minimum, CNN immediately needs to issue a retraction and apologized to Mr. Freeman through the same channels, and with the same level of attention, that is used to unjustly attack him.”
The attorney’s letter alleges that the report has already had “devastating consequences” for the Shawshank Redemption actor.
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“Mr. Freeman is being viewed in the global court of public opinion as someone akin to notorious harassers and accused rapists, such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey,” the letter reads. “CNN had no justification for doing that.”
It also notes those who work with Morgan have felt the need to distance themselves.
“The damage CNN has inflicted is real. And given Mr. Freeman’s career and many motion picture and television commitments, it is substantial,” the letter continues.
“If CNN has any decency or any allegiance to journalistic integrity, it will immediate [sic] retract the article and issue a public apology to Mr. Freeman.”
CNN quickly issued a statement saying the network stands by its story.
“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,” the cable news network says.
“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.”
Morgan’s attorney, Robert Schwartz, has responded to the network’s statement.
“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,” he says.
“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.
“And in choosing to ignore all of the evidence that we presented, CNN has confirmed our concerns about its reporters, its lack of oversight, and its gross misconduct in unjustifiably attacking Mr. Freeman.”
Last week, the acclaimed actor was accused of sexual harassment and/or inappropriate behaviour — including “unwanted touching” — by eight women in the detailed report.
The outlet also interviewed eight alleged witnesses who described a concerning pattern of behaviour by Morgan on set and during promotional campaigns.
Morgan has denied the allegations and apologised (twice) to anyone he inadvertently made feel uncomfortable.
“Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy,” the much-awarded actor told Yahoo Entertainment in a statement last Thursday.
“I apologise to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.”
At the moment, it doesn’t appear that the allegations are interfering with Morgan’s work commitments.
On Monday, he was spotted in Georgia on the set of The Poison Rose. He stars in the film alongside John Travolta.
The actor also has a handful of projects in post or pre-production, and there has been no indication of any changes.
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