CNN was placed in an awkward position this week after Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman was hired to narrate a promotional video for its parent company despite the network breaking the story about several sexual misconduct claims made against the Oscar-winning actor, including one of CNN’s own employees.
WarnerMedia, the owner of Warner Bros., HBO, and many cable networks including CNN, held its “WarnerMedia Day” on Tuesday as part of the rollout of new streaming service HBO Max.
Kicking off the event was an introductory video highlighting the history of Warner Bros.’ impact on film and television as well as teasing its upcoming entertainment platform. The video featured Freeman’s iconic voiceover.
However, not only was Freeman, 82, swept up in the #MeToo movement, but his alleged misconduct was first reported by CNN.
Morgan Freeman narrated a promo video for WarnerMedia, a year after sexual misconduct claims from a CNN employee and others. (Montage/Getty Images)
In May 2018, CNN broke the story that eight women had come forward with claims against the “Shawshank Redemption” star. One production assistant said Freeman in 2015 “would rest his hand on her lower back or rub her lower back,” the report said. It quoted her as saying that Freeman “kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear.” Separately, a woman claimed he sexually harassed two staffers on a 2012 film set with his comments about their bodies.
Three of the accusers were entertainment reporters who said he harassed them during interviews — and one of those accusers was CNN’s own entertainment reporter Chloe Melas, who co-authored the story.
“According to Melas, who was six months pregnant at the time, Freeman, in a room full of people, including his co-stars Arkin and Caine, shook Melas’ hand, not letting go while repeatedly looking her up and down and saying more than once a variation of, ‘I wish I was there.’ She says he also said to her, ‘You are ripe,'” CNN’s report said. “Cameras were on and recording during one of Freeman’s remarks to Melas — ‘Boy, do I wish I was there’ — but not for the rest.”
Melas reportedly told her supervisor what happened, with the supervisor instructing her to contact CNN’s human resources. HR staffers at Warner Bros., which distributed the film Freeman was promoting under WarnerMedia, reportedly told Melas they could not corroborate her claims since video footage did not capture all of Freeman’s alleged quotes and the studio’s employees did not witness anything. Melas and her supervisor agreed for her to stop covering the film.
Following the incident, Melas “started making calls” to see if other women in the industry had similar encounters with Freeman. After discovering she wasn’t the only one, she started pursuing the story.
Neither CNN, Melas, nor WarnerMedia had an immediate response to Fox News’ requests for comment.
A representative for Freeman did not respond. The actor said last year, “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.”