Morgan Freeman’s Lawyer Demands Apology From CNN In Letter Attacking ‘Self-Centered’ Reporter — Who Is Also One Of The Alleged Victims!
In a 10-page letter, the Shawshank Redemption actor’s lawyer accuses CNN of defamation and says the new story “inflicted serious injury on his reputation and career.”
The letter, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, addresses some of the claims but mostly focuses on one woman’s story — that of CNN’s own Chloe Melas.
Melas, one of the alleged harassment victims and also the co-author of the story is quoted in the letter as saying:
“The impetus for the story and this whole investigation was actually my own experience with Morgan Freeman at a junket last year, for the movie Going In Style.”
Melas’ story refers to an on-camera comment in which Freeman says, “Boy do I wish I was there,” while looking her up and down.
The letter argues Melas misinterpreted the moment:
“It is correct that, during the interview, Mr. Freeman said, “I wish I was there.” But Ms. Melas had no factual basis to have interpreted that as a statement about her, or as sexual harassment. The videotape makes clear that Mr. Freeman was in fact responding to a story that Michael Caine had just told. In that story, Mr. Caine had congratulated a woman on becoming pregnant, only to learn to Mr. Caine’s (and the woman’s) embarrassment that she was not pregnant. When Mr. Freeman said “I wish I was there,” any reasonable viewer would have known that the “there” to which he was referring was the conversation in which Mr. Freeman’s friend, Mr. Caine, had embarrassed himself. That is exactly what Mr. Freeman intended.”
You can see Melas presenting that moment with her own context (below):
Freeman’s lawyer argues under “bedrock principles of journalistic integrity” Melas should not have been allowed to work on a story in which she was also a key player:
“As a supposed victim of the article’s subject, Ms. Melas lacked the requisite impartiality and objectivity to fairly cover the story she was chasing. Under those circumstances, CNN should not have allowed her to write it.”
The lawyer says, in terms that seem a bit harsh for a legal document:
“One cannot know if that was the product of something as innocuous as Ms. Melas’ having misheard what Mr. Freeman said, her runaway self-centeredness, or her search for a sexual harassment perpetrator to ├óΓé¼╦£expose’ so that she could grab attention and advance her career.”
The letter goes one step further, saying Melas’ misinterpretation “infected everything that she and CNN thereafter did”:
“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.”
The letter does give at least one example of one of the accusers quoted in the story, Tyra Martin, saying on the record that CNN “misrepresented” her words.
And that’s true. The WGN reporter did indeed go on camera Friday and say she never experienced anything like what CNN’s “misreporting” had said.
You can watch that (below):
CNN responded to the letter with a defensive public 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.”
While Freeman has apologized for behavior making other women uncomfortable, it seems he is resolute he did nothing wrong with Melas.
What do YOU think of this defense?
[Image via WENN.]