“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,” a CNN rep tells TheWrap. “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.”
A CNN insider tells TheWrap that the platform will have a formal, legal response to the letter in the next 24-48 hours — these things just take time to properly put together.
Freeman’s attorney, Robert Schwartz, disagreed with CNN and questioned the network’s credibility in a 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, the statement from Schwartz read. “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.”
In a 10-page letter sent directly to CNN president Jeff Zucker earlier Tuesday and obtained by TheWrap, Freeman’s attorneys accused the cable news channel of defaming their client by running a story accusing the star of misconduct.
“It is clear that CNN has defamed Mr. Freeman,” one of the most damning paragraphs reads. “CNN has inflicted serious injury on his reputation and career. 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.”
Doesn’t seem like that’s happening.
In the CNN story, reporter Chloe Melas recalls firsthand an interview with Freeman in 2017 in which she says he made inappropriate remarks towards her. Freeman’s lawyers counter that the statement in question had nothing to do with Melas, and suggested that perhaps racism played a role in her interpretation of the remark.
Further, Freeman’s attorneys, like some media pundits, do not believe Melas should have even been allowed to write what was presented as a reported story based on her own firsthand experience.