Ever since the Harvey Weinstein story exploded, new and previously unreported allegations of sexual harassment, assault and — in some cases — rape are being levied against powerful men in political and entertainment circles. Notorious photographer Terry Richardson has been dumped by multiple brands because of the allegations against him. Meanwhile, former President George H.W. Bush has been accused of inappropriately groping two women in as many days. As for the news media covering these stories, Fox News isn’t the only outlet reeling from its own internal strife, for NBC News now has its own to deal with.
According to CNN, at least five women have accused veteran political journalist Mark Halperin of sexual harassment during his time in a top position at ABC News. Currently an analyst for NBC News and a frequent panelist on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, the Game Change co-author previously served as political director at the rival broadcast network. That’s where, according to his accusers, Halperin revealed his “dark side”:
The stories of harassment shared with CNN range in nature from propositioning employees for sex to kissing and grabbing one’s breasts against her will. Three of the women who spoke to CNN described Halperin as, without consent, pressing an erection against their bodies while he was clothed. Halperin denies grabbing a woman’s breasts and pressing his genitals against the three women.
One of the women said when she “went up to have a soda and talk and… he just kissed me and grabbed my boobs,” adding: “I just froze. I didn’t know what to do.” Yet despite what he allegedly did, Halperin’s accusers never reported him to executives at ABC News. They also told CNN he never “promised anything in exchange for sex, or suggested that he would retaliate against anyone” should they report his behavior. Per a statement from ABC News, “Mark left ABC News over a decade ago, and no complaints were filed during his tenure.”
Halperin admitted to CNN he “[pursued] relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me” 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.” Even so, according to reporters at The Daily Beast who were also trying to cover this story after Roger Ailes, this is just another example of “something everyone knew.” “This is only just the beginning,” they said. “There are more.”
UPDATE: In a new statement from NBC, the network said, “We find the story and the allegations very troubling. Mark Halperin is leaving is role as a contributor until the questions around his past are fully understood.”
Meanwhile, Halperin’s colleague and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski briefly addressed the story during Thursday’s show. She read a paraphrased version of the previous statements Halperin and NBC gave to CNN, though she did add, “We’re going to be following this story as it develops. I’m sure we’ll be talking about it again when we know more about it.”