Morgan Freeman seeks CNN retraction after story claiming sexual misconduct allegations
CHICAGO — Lawyers for Academy Award winning actor Morgan Freeman are asking CNN to retract a story that claims the actor engaged in sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.
Earlier this month, CNN reported that eight women are alleged to have been harassed by Freeman or subject to inappropriate behavior.
The 80-year-old Freeman denied any wrongdoing, saying in a statement that “anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.”
He went on to say that he “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.”
Morgan has gone a step further, his lawyers issuing a 10-page letter to CNN asking the network to retract its story, claiming it has “defamed and inflicted serious injury” on Freeman’s reputation and career.
In the letter, WGN-TV producer Tyra Martin is cited for her comments after being interviewed by CNN, having gone on record to state that CNN misrepresented what she said and that Freeman did not harass her.
In an interview on WGN-TV, Martin acknowledged she talked to CNN about Freeman’s flirtatious behavior with her, but said she always felt she was “in on the joke”.
“I’m sorry for anyone who had an unfortunate experience, who feels harassed or assaulted,” Martin said. “That wasn’t my experience with Morgan Freeman. The interviews were always fun for me.”
Martin went on to say, “some misreporting got out that I was uncomfortable or that he had made sexual remarks to me every time [I interviewed him], and that’s just not the case. I never said that. It got picked up, and here’s where I’ve learned how careful we have to be because something gets picked up, and then someone else picks it up … and now it’s in print, and it looks like the truth, and it’s not.
“There was one instance that I told her [the author of the CNN article] that gave me pause. And it’s similar to some of the things that other people have said. I stood up from an interview and had on a dress — and you know how, when you have on a dress [and] you get up, you kind of pull your skirt down — and he made a remark: Well, oh, don’t pull it down now. … That was kind of like [Martin makes a face]. I never felt uncomfortable or in danger.
"I respect the women that have been brave enough to say: This thing happened to me, and it was wrong. I support that. But it wasn't me. ... It wasn't my experience."
CNN issued a statement Tuesday in response to the letter from Freeman’s attorneys saying that it stands by its reporting.