Disgraced #MeToo Powerhouse Rebounds Again

Political journalist Mark Halperin, whose career came to a crashing halt in 2017 after more than a dozen women claimed he sexually abused them, has now landed a cushy new lobbying job.

In the fall of 2017, veteran political journalist Mark Halperin’s longstanding contract with NBC News and MSNBC was “terminated” amid increasing allegations of sexual misconduct — specifically, that he had harassed and assaulted more than a dozen women since his time at ABC News in the early 2000s. In a contrite apology statement following the scandal, Halperin insisted that the sexual misconduct ended after he left ABC News. But, reports soon surfaced that directly contradicted his claim — alleged the offenses extended to college-aged students and women hoping to land careers in journalism.

Mark Halperin (center) participates in a panel discussion for Showtime's 'The Circus’ at the finale reception at The Newseum on May 3, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/via Getty Images)

The accusations from the women, who were young and had very little power, included details about instances where Halperin, while clothed, placed his erect penis on their bodies without consent. He was also accused of masturbating in front of an ABC News employee in his office and throwing another woman against a restaurant window before attempting to kiss her. 

The incidents allegedly occurred while Halperin was in a position of significant authority at ABC News. Dianna May, a former researcher at ABC News, told the Washington Post that Halperin told her to sit on his lap on several occasions in 1994 while he had an erection. She explained that she did not speak out due to fear of retribution and the possibility that she would lose her job: "Who would believe me? It was an awful position to be in."

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Halperin denied the more extreme allegations and released a statement in October of 2017 that said he was "profoundly sorry for the pain and anguish" he caused with what he called "outrageous conduct at ABC News," and said he felt "profound guilt." While he admitted and apologized for his conduct that he termed “aggressive,” Halperin also denoted that his actions were “crude” rather than “criminal.”

The downfall of Mark Halperin represented one of the more prominent successes of the #MeToo movement as the mass culture began to call out abuse in major industries like entertainment and media — fields that were previously insulated by such claims. After leaving ABC News in 2007, Halperin had become an NBC powerhouse — he hosted a show on Bloomberg, was a political analyst that often appeared across a spectrum of NBC News shows, and regularly appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.

Halperin’s 2016 book edition of “Game Change,” which sought to focus on Trump's rise to the presidency, was canceled by publisher Penguin Press and HBO dropped his mini-series show in light of the accusations, and his hosting gig on Showtime’s The Circus ended abruptly. After so many credible allegations were made against the disgraced journalist, it became apparent to all major media outlets that Mark Halperin could not be trusted in any workplace scenario where power dynamics were at play.

A shameless publicity tour in early 2020, where Halperin somehow coaxed three other women into sitting on a stage with him to help sell his image as a victim by addressing the indignities of “cancel culture,” led him to a new post at Newsmax. The ever-growing conservative outlet that parrots all things Trump and actively seeks out new viewers through the same promotional strategies Fox News employs started putting Halperin on-air in the summer of 2020.

Mark Halperin speaks on a panel on "cancel culture, #MeToo, responsibility and reintegration into society and livelihoods,” with a panel of women in San Francisco, on February 27, 2020. (Photo by Paul Wilke/via Getty Images)

Newsmax began to feature him on programs throughout their lineup, and he sold the false refrain that Trump had actually won the election on his own show. In late November of 2020, hot on the heels of Trump’s attempt to destroy confidence in the recent presidential election, Halperin was able to book then Trump legal team member Sidney Powell, who effectively used Halperin and Newsmax to peddle baseless allegations about Dominion voting software. In turn, Halperin used Powell to make his controversial re-entrance into “the media world,” and it became clear that his alt-rehabilitation was complete.

Punchbowl News is now reporting that Mark Halperin has “been in negotiations with No Labels about a consulting contract,” and he has “spoken to employees there about whether they would be willing to work with him,” according to an inside source. This morning, the outlet confirmed that Halperin has now officially been hired as a consultant for the non-partisan policy organization.

“We have spoken with Mark Halperin about a short-term consulting project,” said No Labels Senior Advisor Margaret White in a statement shared with the news outlet. “Staff members of No Labels, including CEO Nancy Jacobson and Co-Executive Directors Margaret White and Liz Morrison, have spoken with Halperin and believe a second chance is warranted in this case,” White added.

No Labels CEO Nancy Jacobson (second from left) and Senior Advisor Margaret White (far right) pose for an organizational photo. (Photo by Amanda Andrade-Rhodes/via Getty Images)

White also said the following: “[Halperin’s] treatment of female colleagues before he left ABC News in 2007 was reprehensible. He rightly paid a price for his conduct, professionally and personally. Over the last three and a half years, Halperin has worked to make amends to the women he harmed, to apologize publicly and directly to those willing to meet with him, and to do the work required of anyone who has significantly harmed others.

The group’s director continued, “In engaging with Halperin in this limited manner, we have wrestled with how to balance his past conduct with the need to offer second chances.” The policy group has yet to respond to additional requests for further comment, and Halperin has not responded to requests to comment as of Monday evening.

KellyAnne Conway, Counselor to US President Donald Trump, talks with Mark Halperin during an event for Showtime's Second Season of 'The Circus' at The Newseum on May 3, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/via Getty Images)

Despite his statement to the contrary following the allegations against him, Mark Halperin was, in fact, a senior figure in the ABC News bureau in Washington at the time the sexual harassment allegedly incidents took place in the early 2000s. Additionally, many of the victims confirmed that Halperin had threatened at the time to retaliate against them professionally if they ever disclosed what he’d done.

If true, this publically deflecting behavior hardly shows any sense of remorse or even a fundamental willingness to take responsibility for one’s actions. Maybe No Labels would be better served by looking at the actions of a person to determine if they have been rehabilitated, rather than simply conceding them to “time served.” At the very least, “No Labels” should consider a possible re-branding to a better title like: “No Boundaries,” for authenticity’s sake. One thing is clear — there is little doubt that we will be hearing from Mark Halperin again — one way or another.

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Amee Vanderpool writes the SHERO Newsletter and is an attorney, published author, contributor to newspapers and magazines, and analyst for BBC Radio. She can be reached at avanderpool@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter at @mamasreallyrule. 

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