In the early hours of Thursday morning, CNN reported that journalist Mark Halperin has been accused of sexual harassment by five women during his time at ABC News.
Halperin has denied some accounts of the allegations, but admitted in a statement that he engaged in inappropriate behavior during his time at ABC News and apologized for having “caused others pain”. He did not elaborate on his statement, only saying that he planned to “take a step back from my day-to-day work while I properly deal with this situation.”
As revelations became public, NBC announced that Halperin will not return to the network until “questions about his past are fully understood.”
Here are five things that you need to know about Halperin.
1. The Incidents Allegedly Took Place Between the Mid-90s and Mid-2000s
Of the five accusations, four of them came from former employees at ABC News, while the fifth woman was not an ABC employee but claims that Halperin, while fully clothed, pressed his genitals against her without her consent. Three of the five women said that Halperin pressed his genitals against them without their consent, while another said that he grabbed her breasts, again without consent. Other accusations included Halperin trying to convince a woman to come up to his hotel room, allegedly as part of a proposition to engage in sexual relations.
Halperin has denied that the incidents involving him pressing his genitalia on a woman or grabbing a woman’s breasts. He did not, however, deny the accusations that he had inappropriately invited women to his hotel room.
The CNN report also included a claim from one of the women that she wanted to report him to management and told one of her mentors to do so on her behalf. That report apparently never happened, as ABC confirmed to NBC that it had no record of misconduct on Halperin’s part during his time at the network, which concluded in 2007.
The incidents all reportedly took place after Halperin became the network’s political director, which happened in 1997. Allegedly, no further incidents occurred following Halperin’s departure from ABC News.
2. Halperin Was a Common Presence on Morning Joe
Since leaving ABC News, Halperin has appeared regularly on the NBC program “Morning Joe”, often showing up to give analysis on the debates during the campaign season. Halperin’s official job association was MSNBC correspondent rather than official host, but along with fellow contributors Mike Barnicle and Donny Deutsch, he was one of the most common guests on the show, appearing in the studio as well as in the field.
Less formal was his show “With All Due Respect”, which appeared on Bloomberg Television and MSNBC for three seasons before being cancelled upon the inauguration of Donald Trump as president. Halperin would also occasionally appear on other MSNBC and NBC News programs as requested when the news called for it.
3. He Had a Book Made Into an HBO Movie
Actually, he had part of one of his books made into an HBO movie. In 2010, Halperin and John Heilemann released the book Game Change, a book that dove into the details of the presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain during the 2008 campaign. The book included interviews with people on both sides of the aisle and was divided into three parts, focusing on each side’s primary season before diving into the 2008 general election campaign.
It was the third part about the election that gained the most notoriety and became what people remembered most about the election. The third part was eventually made into a movie, which focused almost entirely on John McCain’s effort to shake up the race by choosing the then-unknown Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate.
The phrase that was the title of the book became associated with that choice in the film, which followed the McCain campaign’s ultimately unsuccessful attempts to keep Palin on message and prepare her for the pressures of a vice presidential campaign. Among those Halperin interviewed for the book who appeared in the movie were campaign strategist Steve Schmidt and current host of MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House” Nicolle Wallace, both of whom worked closely with Palin while managing McCain’s unsuccessful run at the White House.
Halperin’s book was praised for its revelations, among them being a critical remark from then-Sen. Harry Reid concerning Obama. Halperin has since written books about both the 2012 and 2016 elections, the latter of which became a series on Showtime called Circus.
4. He’s Been Suspended From NBC News Before
(The video above contains language that might be offensive to some readers. Viewer discretion is advised.)
Long before the accusations concerning Halperin’s alleged past, the contributor was caught in hot water over language used on the air to describe then-president Barack Obama. In 2011, Halperin appeared on “Morning Joe” for his analysis on a press conference given by Obama. Upon being asked to give his analysis, Halperin prefaced his comments by asking if the show had a seven-second delay so that he could give his honest opinion.
Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski encouraged Halperin to go ahead and speak his mind, and Halperin said with a slight grin that “I thought the president was kind of a **** yesterday.” Upon hearing that, the table erupted with shock and surprise, with Scarborough claiming that he was joking when he told Halperin to go ahead and use the seven-second delay.
The delay function ultimately did not work, with Halperin’s comment going out to MSNBC viewers before he returned to giving his analysis. Halperin’s comment led to a quick suspension following the show, a suspension that Halperin said he agreed with.
Despite his comment, Halperin received support from the Obama administration, who expressed distaste with his comments but ultimately believed that the comment should not outweigh the reputation he had built to that point of his career, long before the sexual allegations became known.
5. His Father Was a Political Writer and Worker
Halperin is the son of Morton Halperin, a foreign policy analyst and writer who has served under the Johnson, Nixon, Clinton and Obama administrations. The elder Halperin actually came under fire during the Nixon administration when reports came out that the United States was bombing Cambodia.
Morton Halperin officially made Nixon’s famed “Enemies List” and had his phone secretly wiretapped in 1969 because the administration suspected him of leaking the information on Cambodia to the New York Times. The FBI never obtained a warrant to tap the elder Halperin’s phone, but Halperin had his phone tapped for more than two years as the administration tried to find a way to remove him from his role on the National Security Council.
Halperin would ultimately sue for damages and win a symbolic judgment of a dollar in the 1970s, but had the verdict overturned. In 1992, Henry Kissinger, who had been part of the wiretap, officially apologized to the elder Halperin and the lawsuit was withdrawn.