CNN has no plans to retract a May 24 article, that cited 16 sources accusing actor Morgan Freeman of inappropriate behavior, despite a 10-page legal-threat sent by the actor’s lawyer.
Responding with a letter of its own on Thursday, the network said the retraction demand from attorney Robert M. Schwartz was “designed for press consumption” and “rife with empty speculation, overheated rhetoric and in some instances plainly false assertions.”
Schwartz’s letter had attacked CNN reporter Chloe Melas, who co-authored the report and spoke on the record about her experiences with the actor. In response, the network told Schwartz: “Rather than identify any specific aspects of the CNN report as false or wrong you engage in a lengthy and baseless ad hominem attack on one of the women who reported the story.”
The network has continuously stood by the report since it was published and used the letter to further throw the weight of the organization behind the story. “It was accurate when reported by CNN,” the network said. “It remains accurate now.”
In the letter, senior vp legal David C. Vigilante also accused Schwartz of a conflict of interest, noting that his firm “has been actively representing CNN and its affiliates in several intellectual property matters.”
A few hours later, Schwartz responded to CNN’s letter, through a spokesperson, in an email to The Hollywood Reporter. “‘CNN’s letter is long on saber-rattling but short on substance,” he said. “It fails to address the compelling evidence we provided that the story was tarnished by manipulation of the facts and conflict of interest. It was flawed from its inception and still is. Enough is enough.”