Morgan Freeman's lawyer has sent a 10-page letter to CNN demanding the network retract its story accusing Freeman of sexual misconduct. Attorney Robert M. Schwartz says reporter Chloe Melas has stated she was inspired to research and write the story after Freeman made inappropriate comments toward her (while she was pregnant) as she interviewed him, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin—but that video of one of those statements (see it in our gallery or here) "makes clear" Freeman was simply responding to an awkward story Caine had just told about congratulating a woman on her pregnancy only to find out she wasn't pregnant. "Her version of the interview is false," Schwartz says in the letter, which was obtained by USA Today, the Hollywood Reporter, and Variety. That "false" account then "infected everything that she and CNN thereafter did," he says.
Melas then "baited and prodded supposed 'witnesses' to say bad things about Mr. Freeman and tried to get them to confirm her bias against him," he says. (See the full letter at Deadline.) Eight of the 16 women cited in Melas' article alleged harassment, unwanted touching, or other inappropriate behavior at the hands of Freeman, while the other eight said they had witnessed such misconduct—but Schwartz points out that many were not named and two of them, Freeman's longtime business partner Lori McCreary and reporter Tyra Martin, have denied being harassed by Freeman. Martin has done so publicly, once on her own station and once to TMZ. A CNN rep calls Schwartz's accusations "unfounded," noting they "are difficult to reconcile with Mr. Freeman’s own public statements in the aftermath of the story" (Freeman apologized). (Entertainment Tonight also rounded up a couple of awkward Freeman interviews; watch in our gallery or here.)