Top political journalist hit with slew of sexual harassment allegations

Mark Halperin. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

In the weeks since the initial bombshell reports emerged detailing Harvey Weinstein’s alleged decades of sexual misconduct, accusations have also been leveled against many other many in the entertainment industry and outside of it. The allegations have ranged in severity and have even caused a former U.S. president to issue an apology for having repeatedly “patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.” But now a major figure in political journalism has been swamped by accusations that, for years, he sexually harassed younger women in the workplace. Veteran journalist Mark Halperin, the co-author of the book Game Change, which chronicled the 2008 presidential election and was made into a popular HBO movie, is facing a litany of accusations from nearly 10 women. More recently, Halperin has worked for Bloomberg and and as a pundit for MSNBC.

The first five women spoke out anonymously in a report by CNN. The women alleged that Halperin had harassed them while he was the political director at ABC News during the 1990s. Though the women said Halperin never explicitly offered to exchange career advancement for sexual favors, he did engage in inappropriate behavior behind closed doors in his office. The women say Halperin’s harassment has been an open secret for a long time. One woman told CNN that “he came up behind me and [while he was clothed] he pressed his body on mine, his penis, on my shoulder.”

Other women have come out, sans anonymity, to make their accusations. Dianna Goldberg, who now goes by her married surname May, was working as a researcher at ABC News in 1994. She told The Washington Post that Halperin called her into his office and asked her to sit on his lap on one occasion. “What?” May remembered having told him. “I don’t want to sit on your lap.” But then she agreed to do so briefly, realizing that he had an erection under his pants. The Post spoke with other women, who requested anonymity to speak freely. One woman told a story that eerily echoed the M.O. of Harvey Weinstein. Halperin, according to the account, opened the door of his hotel room when a woman who was sent to deliver political research to him had knocked. He greeted her wearing nothing besides a bathrobe that was open in the front, according to the report in the Post.

Another woman who said she worked with Halperin at ABC News told The Daily Beast that he once called her into a conference room for a meeting and lunged at her, backing her into a corner. And Eleanor McManus, a CNN journalist recalled an encounter she had with Halperin when she was a budding newswoman, fresh out of college and looking for her first media job. She ended up in Halperin’s office at ABC where, she wrote in an essay for CNN, he tried to kiss her.

Halperin has apologized for some of his conduct, but denied other allegations including the many reports that he groped women and rubbed his erect penis on women. “During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me. I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize,” he said in a statement. Meanwhile, Halperin has faced a wave of fallout. He’s lost his deal with Penguin Press to write a book on the 2016 election, has had a project with HBO abandoned, and has been suspended from appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Is he the Harvey Weinstein of political journalism? Maybe — but maybe someone else in the media world fits the Weinstein profile more precisely. According to an ominous tweet by CNN reporter Dylan Byers, new revelations on five more prominent media figures may soon be coming.


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EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is independent of and separate from any views of The New York Times.