The Details: Last week, actor Morgan Freeman was the subject of a lengthy piece on CNN. Unfortunately for Mr. Freeman, the piece wasn’t a celebration of his lengthy and accomplished career, but rather a detailed account of accusations of harassment and inappropriate behavior from a number of different women.
Unsurprisingly, the story quickly grew legs, as it revolved around a highly-regarded famous person who was suddenly at the center of a major controversy that stemmed from allegations of him behaving badly. Freeman was quickly condemned in many circles, but the story has taken yet another turn. Attorneys for the aging actor have completely blasted the article and demanded its retraction.
Why it’s important: To be perfectly clear right from the get-go, we have absolutely no idea if Freeman has in fact conducted himself in a reprehensible manner. If he has, then we can only hope that he will someday have to pay the piper and atone for his actions. That said, we’ll resist the urge to rush to judgment until all of the facts emerge. According to his attorneys, there’s a whole lot more to see here.
“But no one who read CNN’s article about Mr. Freeman was told that it was the product of malicious intent, falsehoods, slight-of-hand, an absence of editorial control, and journalistic malpractice,” a letter from Freeman’s lawyers read in part. So who do we believe at this point? That’s incredibly unclear, but it certainly leads to a compelling argument on not rushing to conclusions one way or the other.
A little perspective: The average news cycle moves incredibly fast in today’s day and age. Our always-connected world inspires a need for things to be resolved rather quickly, and the same holds true when it comes to stories that hit the wires. In fact, it’s not all that uncommon to have people make up their minds about a particular story strictly from the headlines.
We saw a lot of that last week when the Freeman story emerged, as scores of observers essentially convicted him based on the information contained in the story. Were they correct in making that assumption? Only time will tell, but for right now, it certainly appears that the brakes need to be tapped. It’s a lesson that all of us–news outlets included–can take to heart in our fast-moving world.