Are the media and entertainment industries beginning pre-emptive strikes against sexually deviant employees that, they have likely long sensed or known, will eventually be exposed by a Federal Bureau of Investigation with a renewed spirit for conducting actual investigations? The Weinstein saga, and the subsequent levying of over 300 allegations of sexual misconduct by his fellow tinsel-town power broker James Toback seem only to be the start of the falling dominos. But, as the latest allegations of sexual misconduct by a high-profile media personality reveal, the leveraging of power in concert with inappropriate, and possible criminal, sexual advances is not limited to the film industry.
It was reported on October 26th that political journalist, author, and TV personality Mark Halperin was dismissed from his position as an analyst for NBC News after, as of now, five women accused him of sexual harassment and in some cases, assault. His M.O., according to multiple accounts, is eerily similar to that of Harvey Weinstein. And, like Weinstein, CNN’s Clarissa Ward, who worked with Halperin while he was with ABC News, said that his prompting of coworkers for sexual favors was ‘an open secret’. The accounts of how Halperin was able to get away with harassing and relentlessly pursuing sexual favors from female coworkers, all of them in positions far less prominent than his, are nasty. But it must be stated, as it will continue to be, that networks such as ABC News and NBC – supposed champions of women’s rights – have revealed themselves once again to be anything but. The hypocrisy is astounding, and the complicity of coworkers and bosses, both male and female, shows that the stringent rules and consequences regarding sexual harassment in most sectors apparently don’t apply to many of those who make a living in front of the camera.
According to Halperin, he was simply ‘pursuing relationships.’
"During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me," Halperin said in a statement to CNN Wednesday night.
"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."
As you’ll see, if Halperin considers allegations to be a means of pursuing relationships, it’s frightening to consider how aggressively sexual he was toward women he was actually in relationships with.
Predictably, despite reports that Halperin’s behavior was widely-known, ABC News, his employer at the time these allegations were alleged to have taken place, denies knowing a thing.
"Mark left ABC News over a decade ago, and no complaints were filed during his tenure," ABC News said in a statement provided to CNN after this article was published.
Perhaps it’s true that no formal complaints were filed against Halperin during his tenure as uber-powerful ‘political director’ at ABC News. Like many of the young actresses who never spoke out against Weinstein, there is a sort of implied tit-for-tat when it comes to men with significant amounts of power within a company or industry. In the case of Weinstein, allowing his sexual advances would increase the likelihood of an actress being granting a role in one of his films. For Halperin, the implied exchange was that, even if he was ultimately unsuccessful in his advances, victims not filing complaints likely meant keeping their jobs, as well as future job prospects. Because Halperin’s influence was not limited only to ABC News or NBC.
‘Widely considered to be one of the preeminent political journalists, Halperin, 52, has, among other career highlights, been political director at ABC News; co-authored the bestselling book "Game Change," which was made into an HBO movie starring Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin; and anchored a television show on Bloomberg TV. He is featured in Showtime's "The Circus," a show that chronicled the 2016 campaign cycle and the early days of the Trump presidency, and has a project in development with HBO, which, like CNN, is owned by Time Warner.’ (CNN Media)
Power is often corrupting, and Mark Halperin had plenty of power. The manner in which he leveraged this power, according to alleged accounts, was aggressive, to say the least.
Alleged Victim A:
‘The first woman told CNN she was invited to visit his office in the early 2000s, when he was political director at ABC News, to have a soda, and said that while she was there with him he forcibly kissed her and pressed his genitals against her body.
"I went up to have a soda and talk and -- he just kissed me and grabbed my boobs," the woman said. "I just froze. I didn't know what to do."
When she did make her way out of his office, the woman told a friend at ABC News what had happened. That friend told CNN she remembered the woman telling her about the incident and seeing her visibly shaken.’
Alleged Victim B:
‘"The first meeting I ever had with him was in his office and he just came up from behind -- I was sitting in a chair from across his desk -- and he came up behind me and [while he was clothed] he pressed his body on mine, his penis, on my shoulder," this woman told CNN. "I was obviously completely shocked. I can't even remember how I got out of there -- [but] I got out of there and was freaked out by that whole experience. Given I was so young and new I wasn't sure if that was the sort of thing that was expected of you if you wanted something from a male figure in news."’ (CNN)
But Halperin was apparently not deterred by alleged Victim B’s rebuffs, as he allegedly continued to proposition her for sex while covering the presidential campaign despite it being abundantly clear that she was not interested.
"He would say, 'Why don't you meet me upstairs?' And I would say, 'That's not a good idea.' And he would push the request further," the person said. "Eventually I would just ignore him and go about my business."
This accuser’s fried corroborates that she was told by the alleged victim of the specifics of the incident shortly after it occurred.
Alleged Victim C:
"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."
Sounds a lot like the women ‘invited’ into Harvey Weinstein’s many hotel rooms, and prevented from leaving via doorway-blocking, doesn’t it? Power-wielding predators, if Halperin is found guilty – and there is little apparent motive for women to be smearing a man in their own ideological circle, apparently operate in a fairly systematic way.
Alleged Victim D:
‘A fourth woman who worked with Halperin and was junior to him told CNN he once asked her late at night on the campaign trail to go up to his hotel room with him, and that she believed him to be propositioning her. She declined.’ (CNN)
A fifth alleged victim, the only one who was not an ABC News employee, declined to share the details of her encounter beyond claiming that Halperin put his fully-erect penis against her body when she was not expecting, or consenting, to it.
Talk about a hostile work environment...
Though CNN’s investigation, how thorough it was being unclear, said that they uncovered no incidences after he left ABC News in 2007 for a job with Time magazine, a seeming career-step down. Perhaps the rumors – remember, ABC News said no formal complaints were filed against Halperin while with the company – played a factor in his departure. Only a few people can say for certain, and those people will surely continue to deny any knowledge of Halperin’s alleged misconduct.
The most alarming aspect of these allegations is, like the Weinstein case, that this behavior was apparently an “open secret” (former CNN employee’s words, not mine) and that little if anything was done to inquire into rumors and/or discipline Halperin. This leads many to speculate justly that there will only be more allegations of sexual impropriety within the media and film industries to come. But, surely, the same networks that likely enabled Halperin’s alleged sexual impropriety, to put it mildly, will deflect, deflect, deflect.
Our President did it too, they will claim.
Except, the allegations levied against Weinstein, Toback, and Halperin are most definitely not the same as what the President spoke of in the Billy Bush tapes. Trump spoke of women who willingly allowed him to make sexual advances, presumably with some form of consent granted beforehand. While another former President who goes by the moniker Slick Willy could be lumped in more accurately with the Weinsteins, Tobacks, and Halperins of the world, it will be Donald Trump who is unfairly, and inaccurately, associated with such behavior.
But, as the cracks in the dam continue to spread, it seems that networks and industries who have aligned themselves with the left will be further exposed as the ultimate hypocrites that most already know them to be, championing the rights of women while turning a willful cheek to real cases of harassment and victimhood that lay right under their noses.