Political journalist Mark Halperin is facing broad repercussions after five women came forward with allegations that he sexually harassed them while he was ABC News’s political director throughout the early 2000s.
On Monday, NBC News and MSNBC announced Halperin would no longer appear as a contributor, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Two days earlier, it was announced Halperin was dropped from Showtime, where he was the host of a political show called The Circus for two seasons. It was also reported that Penguin Press will no longer publish Halperin’s planned book on the 2016 presidential election — co-authored with longtime collaborator John Heilemann — nor would HBO adapt the book into a miniseries.
As CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported on October 26, the five women say Halperin exhibited a range of unwanted behavior, including groping, kissing, and propositioning ABC News employees for sex. The earliest incident reported allegedly took place in 2000, and the women say that Halperin’s inappropriate behavior continued throughout his tenure at ABC News, which ended in 2007 when he joined Time magazine.
One woman recounted a moment she experienced while working on the road with Halperin: “I excused myself to go to the bathroom and he was standing there when I opened the door propositioning [me] to go into the other bathroom to do something," she said. "It freaked me out. I came out of the ladies' room and he was just standing there. Like almost blocking the door."
Two other women said Halperin pressed his genitals against them, and another said he repeatedly propositioned her for sex even after she made it clear she was not interested.
"For the last 11 years, I have had to watch this guy find success in every other news organization," one of Halperin’s accusers told CNN.
Aside from his work at ABC News and his current role as a political contributor to MSNBC, Halperin is known for co-authoring two popular books chronicling the 2008 and 2012 elections, Game Change and Double Down, which he penned with Heilemann. The first book was later adapted into an HBO film starring Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin.
Halperin initially responded to the allegations by telling CNN that he would take leave from his current work as a contributor at NBC and MSNBC, where he is a frequent guest on Morning Joe.
"During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me," Halperin said. "I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain.”
In an additional, much lengthier statement later posted on Twitter, Halperin said he realized he had a problem near the end of his time at ABC News, and sought counseling. “No one had sued me, no one had filed a human resources complaint against me, no colleague had confronted me. But I didn’t need a call from HR to know that I was a selfish, immature person, who was behaving in a manner that had to stop.”
According to CNN, the alleged incidents involving Halperin all took place during his time at ABC News. In a statement to CNN, ABC News said that no official complaints were filed against Halperin while he was there.
Halperin is one of several high-profile men who have been accused of sexual harassment — and, in some cases, assault — in the past year, with a flood of allegations coming out in the past month after two major reports chronicled dozens of accusations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Since the New York Times and the New Yorker both published their initial reports, dozens of women have come forward with accusations against Weinstein. Other men, including independent filmmaker James Toback, New Orleans chef John Besh, former New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier, and former President George H.W. Bush have also faced a range accusations of harassment and assault.