Reporters at CNN were shocked at its parent company’s decision to hire Morgan Freeman to do a voice-over for a meeting after the network broke a story detailing sexual harassment against him.
The actor’s voice was heard narrating an opening video at a WarnerMedia presentation to investors on Tuesday and CNN employees were ‘disgusted’ as the network is a WarnerMedia company.
‘It’s disgusting,’ one CNN employee told Variety. ‘So many of us were scratching our heads in shock, wondering how something like this could even happen.’
There was a video montage which highlighted AT&T’s, Warner Bros.’ and Turner’s accomplishments as individual companies that have merged together.
Reporters at CNN were shocked at the decision to hire Morgan Freeman to do a voice-over for a company meeting after the network broke a story detailing sexual harassment against him
Chloe Melas, (left), is the CNN reporter who wrote the article who claims Freeman called her ‘ripe.’ She wrote the story with her editor An Phung, (right)
There were pictures of telephones, movies and CNN reporters were shown on the screen at Warner Bros.
John Stankey, the AT&T president and COO and WarnerMedia CEO, then made an announcement to introduce the company’s new streaming service.
Freeman’s voice was then heard saying: ‘Innovation: It can be born out of a single spark.
‘And this spark has spread to change our lives forever, connecting us instantaneously through the stars high above. Today, that spark is continuing to spread,’ Variety reported.
Last May the Shawshank Redemption star, 82, apologized after being accused of widespread sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, saying that he never intended to make ‘anyone feel disrespected or uncomfortable’.
It came after a piece was published by CNN detailing allegations of misconduct by eight different women.
The allegations included the claims a young production assistant who alleges Freeman, 80, tried to lift up her skirt repeatedly in 2015.
Only one woman who claims to have been mistreated by him was named. She is Chloe Melas, the CNN reporter who wrote the article who claims Freeman called her ‘ripe’ and told her: ‘Boy I want to be there’ as she interviewed him while six months pregnant in 2017.
Other women said he behaved like a ‘creepy uncle’ at Revelations Entertainment, his production company, and that his unwanted glances and treatment of them forced them to stop wearing skirts or dresses in the office.
The production assistant who claims he tried to lift up her skirt repeatedly to see if she was wearing underwear said the incident happened in 2015 on the set of Going In Style.
Chloe Melas, the CNN reporter who wrote the article who claims Freeman called her ‘ripe’ and told her: ‘Boy I want to be there’ as she interviewed him while six months pregnant in 2017
John Stankey, the AT&T president and COO and WarnerMedia CEO, made an announcement to introduce the company’s new streaming service and Morgan Freeman’s voice could then be heard at a company meeting on Tuesday
She alleged that Alan Arkin, Freeman’s co-star in the movie, was there and intervened.
She said: ‘[He] kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear.
‘Alan [Arkin] made a comment telling him to stop. Morgan got freaked out and didn’t know what to say.’
The woman was in her early 20s and Freeman was 78 at the time. Another, who was described as a senior member of production staff who worked with him on Now You See Me in 2012, claimed it was common knowledge that he ‘harassed’ females on set.
‘He did comment on our bodies… We knew that if he was coming by … not to wear any top that would show our breasts, not to wear anything that would show our bottoms, meaning not wearing clothes that [were] fitted,’ she said.
Another former staffer there alleged that when she met him for the first time on the set of his series Through The Wormhole, which began in 2010, he ‘looked her up and down and asked: “How do you feel about sexual harassment?.”
In a statement shortly after the piece was published, he DailyMail.com: ‘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.’
However the actor’s legal team later demanded a retraction from CNN and threatened a possible lawsuit over the story accusing the actor of sexual misconduct.
One production assistant who claims Freeman tried to lift up her skirt repeatedly to see if she was wearing underwear said the incident happened in 2015 on the set of Going In Style. The movie also starred Michael Caine and Alan Arkin
Freeman’s lawyers also used their letter to suggest that Melas, who co-wrote the story with her editor An Phung, may have been motivated by racism or a desire to advance her career when she published her claims
Among the many points made by Freeman in the letter is the fact that the comment which fueled reporter Chloe Melas’ investigation into him was not even made to her, but rather in response to a story his co-star Michael Caine had been telling at the press junket for Going In Style.
This comes just two days after one of the woman labeled as a Freeman accuser in story, Tyra Martin, said on-air that her comments were misrepresented and she did not at any point deem the actor’s behavior inappropriate.
Freeman’s lawyers also use their letter to suggest that Melas, who co-wrote the story with her editor An Phung, may have been motivated by racism or a desire to advance her career when she published her claims.
A spokesman for CNN told DailyMail.com: ‘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.’
‘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 “expose” so that she could grab attention and advance her career,’ reads the letter at one point.
Other than Melas, McCreary and Martin are the only two women who are identified by name in the story.
‘Based on those facts, and the additional information presented below, it is clear that CNN has defamed Mr. Freeman. CNN has inflicted serious injury on his reputation and career,’ states the letter from Freeman’s attorneys at Irell & Manella.
‘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 on May 24.’