CNN staff members are reportedly upset that their parent company, WarnerMedia, hired Morgan Freeman to narrate a portion of a video presented to investors this week.
According to Variety, the reason staffers are angry is because some feel that the recent allegations against Freeman by eight women, which include harassment and inappropriate behavior claims, should have automatically disqualified him from the job. Particularly since last May, CNN reporters An Phung and Chloe Melas investigated the allegations and released an in-depth story.
Now several anonymous staffers, who reportedly fear retribution if they reveal their names, tell Variety that WarnerMedia’s hiring of Freeman flies in the face of that reporting.
“It’s disgusting,” one CNN employee reportedly told the magazine. “So many of us were scratching our heads in shock, wondering how something like this could even happen.”
On Tuesday, during the presentation to investors, Freeman narrated the opening video.
The video was put together to show the individual accomplishments of AT&T, Warner Bros.’ and Turner – three companies that are now operating as one consolidated company. The five-minute video featured telephone and satellite imagery, snippets from hit movies like Casablanca, Harry Potter series, and television comedies and dramas such as Friends and ER. The video also highlights the work of CNN journalists. Freeman’s voice appears at the beginning of the video, which also includes John Stankey, WarnerMedia’s CEO, unveiling a new streaming service called HBO Max.
“Innovation: It can be born out of a single spark,” Freeman’s voice can be heard saying, according to Variety. “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.”
Neither WarnerMedia or CNN responded to a request for comment, Variety reported.
In the CNN expose about Freeman, Melas revealed that the actor had acted inappropriately around her. “According to Melas, who was six months pregnant at the time, Freeman, in a room full of people, including his co-stars (Alan) Arkin and (Michael) 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,’” according to Variety.
Melas and Phung also did not respond to an interview request, but one CNN employee told the magazine that hiring Freeman was “disrespectful” to Melas.
“Someone just wasn’t thinking, and didn’t do research, I guess.”
For his part, Freeman denied the CNN article when it broke last year. He reportedly said the allegations made against him were a misunderstanding and that he was trying to be humorous.
“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,” Freeman said, according to Variety.
“I did not create unsafe work environments. I did not assault women. I did not offer employment or advancement in exchange for sex,” Freeman reportedly said at the time. “Any suggestion that I did so is completely false.”