Last year, political journalist Mark Halperin shrugged off the allegations that then-presidential candidate Donald Trump had groped women and kissed them without their consent: “There’s nothing illegal, there’s nothing even kind of, like, beyond boorish or politically incorrect.”
Now Halperin himself has been accused of serial sexual harassment.
The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers found the tape of Halperin last year, after multiple women accused Trump of sexually assaulting and harassing them, on a political panel on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
“If that's the best they got on these issues and Donald Trump, Donald Trump should be celebrating that story,” Halperin said on the episode in May 2016. “There's some troubling things in the piece, but there's nothing illegal, there's nothing even kind of, like, beyond boorish or politically incorrect, which is built into the Donald Trump brand. So if that's the best they have in this score, Donald Trump can celebrate this story, politically.”
The comments illustrate one way that sexual harassment and assault by powerful men in entertainment and media have a ripple effect beyond their own workplaces. Halperin was a well-known and sought-after commentator whose opinions helped shape how Americans understand politics — a world in which, particularly during recent elections, gender and power dynamics have been crucial topics.
Halperin was specifically commenting on the allegations of Jill Harth, a former beauty pageant promoter who worked with Trump, and Temple Taggart, a Miss USA contestant in the late 1990s. Harth alleged that Trump groped her under a table, while Taggart said that Trump had twice kissed her on the mouth without her consent.
This week, five women anonymously told CNN that Halperin had groped and kissed them and propositioned ABC News employees for sex while he was political director of ABC News. In the Washington Post, another woman went on record to say that when she was a young researcher at ABC, Halperin asked her to come sit on his lap — and when she did so, the woman said, Halperin had an erection.
Halperin has released the same statement to both CNN and the Washington Post, admitting past “inappropriate” behavior that “caused others pain.” “For that,” he said, “I am deeply sorry and I apologize.”
"During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me," he said in a statement. "I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize. Under the circumstances, I'm going to take a step back from my day-to-day work while I properly deal with this situation."