Renowned actor Morgan Freeman has garnered unwanted attention from Russia after stating that the United States is “at war” with Russia and “former KGB spy” Vladimir Putin.
“We have been attacked. We are at war,” Freeman says in a video for the Committee to Investigate Russia, a group dedicated to investigating Russia’s impact on the United States’ democratic processes.
“Using social media to spread propaganda and false information, he convinces people in democratic societies to distrust their media, their political processes, even their neighbors. And he wins,” Freeman said, describing Putin, Russia’s president.
Director Robert Reiner launched the Committee to Investigate Russia, which was announced on Twitter about a week ago.
“Through Facebook and through other means, they were able to infect our democracy and our election system,” Reiner said in an interview with Variety. “People don’t get it I guess because they don’t feel it. I guess it is like walking around with high blood pressure. You don’t feel bad, and then before you know it you drop dead from a heart attack. My concern is people don’t understand the gravity of what they were able to do.”
“We need our president to speak directly to us and tell us the truth,” he added.
A spokesman for Putin called Freeman “a victim of emotionally charged, self-exalted status,” according to Radio Free Europe. A Russian news network hosted a team of psychiatrists that attributed Freeman’s comments to “a Messianic complex resulting from playing God or the president in several films,” as well as “drug abuse,” according to BBC.
Freeman’s video resulted in a “#StopMorganLie” hashtag on social media, which did not gain a lot of traction.
A Russian news agency cited Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as calling Freeman’s video “another story about the ends justifying the means.”
“However, we will know who is behind this story sooner than we knew about the true contents of the infamous test tube,” said Zakharova. Zakharova’s statement was in reference to former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s 2003 demonstration in which he held a tube of white powder that he said was anthrax in an effort to call for military action against Iraq.
Trump took to Twitter to dismiss the investigation as a “Russia hoax” and more “Fake News.”
The Committee to Investigate Russia’s advisory board includes Max Boot, a foreign policy analyst, and James Clapper, who formerly served as director of national intelligence. The organization has received mixed feedback. Think Progress said the group does not have the means to achieve its goal, despite being well-intended.
“There is ample room – and need – for a broader education campaign pertaining to Moscow’s designs, both recent and future. But the Committee to Investigate Russia, unfortunately, does not appear the group capable of leading such a campaign, no matter how many legendary actors it ropes into its efforts,” the outlet reported.
The Committee also incorrectly identified Russia’s Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces. The organization mistakenly posted a photo of General Nikolay Makarov, who formerly served in the role, and identified him as General Valery Gerasimov, the current chief.
But the organization’s cause has merit in the eyes of many Americans. A recent CNN poll found that more than half of Americans believe it is likely that Russian-backed content on Facebook swayed the U.S. presidential election last year. And attitudes toward the topic appear to be changing. A Fox News poll conducted in December found that roughly one-third of registered voters believed cyber attacks orchestrated by Russia worked in Trump’s favor; this shot up to 44 percent in May. In May, 49 percent of those polled said Russian cyber attacks had no real effect — down from 59 percent in December.