Despite the threat of a lawsuit from NFL star Jameis Winston for parts of The Hunting Ground that “are false and defamatory” to Winston, CNN went ahead and aired the documentary, undeterred.
In a letter to CNN president Jeff Zucker, Winston’s lawyer said, in part, “If CNN decides to proceed with this broadcast, we will perhaps have the opportunity to test that legal proposition [of libel] in a court of law.”
A spokesperson told the New York Times, “CNN is proud to provide a platform for a film that has undeniably played a significant role in advancing the national conversation about sexual assault on college campuses.”
Director Kirby Dick and producer Amy Ziering defended the film. “We were not surprised by the lengths Mr. Winston and his lawyer were willing to go to stop the public from seeing this film. When documentaries bring to light uncomfortable truths about powerful people and institutions, it’s not unusual for them to wage aggressive campaigns to silence their critics. We fully stand behind Erica Kinsman and all of the survivors who bravely spoke out in our film.”
The film aired Sunday night at 8pm.