MSNBC this morning confirmed to Deadline it has terminated Mark Halperin’s contract.
News comes days after CNN first reported claims of five women, who spoke on condition of anonymity, that veteran journalist Halperin had sexually harassed them when he was working for ABC News. He had been suspended from NBC News since that late Wednesday report.
Late Friday, Halperin had issued a last-ditch apology, in which he acknowledged his “aggressive and crude” behavior towards women while at ABC. But, insisted Halperin, who joined MSNBC as senior political analyst in 2010 after working for Time and Bloomberg, he has had a “very different reputation than I had at ABC News because I conducted myself in a very different manner.” He said that was the result of “several years” of “weekly counseling sessions to work on understanding the personal issues and attitudes that caused me to behave in such an inappropriate manner.”
MSNBC’s Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski had set the stage for the unraveling of Halperin’s empire last week on Thursday morning when she addressed the absence of the show regular at the top of the broadcast:
Now to a story that broke overnight involving someone you see around this table every day. CNN is reporting allegations regarding our friend Mark Halperin during his time at ABC News over a decade ago, unnamed sources detailing unwanted advances and inappropriate behavior. Halperin apologized for the pain his actions caused and said “I will take a step pack from my day-to-day work while I properly address the situation.”
-Showtime, the network for which Halperin co-hosted the buzzy political docu-drama series The Circus, announced it was “reevaluating” its relationship with him and the future of the program. Showtime later updated to say the show may be back, but Halperin won’t.
-HBO dropped plans to develop a project based on Halperin and and John Heilemann’s 2016 election post-mortem, explaining, “HBO has no tolerance for sexual harassment within the company or its productions.”
–Halperin’s publisher stuck a shiv in the book itself, saying “In light of the recent news regarding Mark Halperin, Penguin Press has decided to cancel plans to publish a book he was co-authoring on the 2016 election.” Penguin Press had, in March announced it would publish the book, on the heels of its success publishing their 2008 and 2012 campaign autopsies, “Game Change” and “Double Down.”
-UltraViolet, the women’s advocacy group that targeted Fox News’ advertisers after the NYT report on the millions spent by Bill O’Reilly and his employer to settle women’s harassment claims, took a victory lap after similarly urging Penguin and HBO to walk away from Halperin.
-CNN senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward tweeted that Halperin’s alleged behavior “was an open secret when I was at ABC for years – brave of these women to speak up.”
Twenty four hours after making her first on-air statement, by which time the number of women making claims having more than doubled, Brzezinki updated Morning Joe viewers: “Over the past 24 hours there have been more disturbing reports regarding Mark Halperin’s treatment of younger female workers…Behavior in these reports allegedly occurred one to two decades ago and now we’re looking at it….But we’re also witnessing a larger movement of women speaking up about sexual harassment, because the fear of being dismissed, or not believed, is melting away.”
In CNN’s initial report, documenting claims of five women, Halperin had responded with a statement, saying, “During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me.”
He continued, “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.”
According to CNN, the harassment accusations from the anonymous women include propositioning employees for sex, kissing, and grabbing one’s breast without consent. Three women claimed that Halperin pressed his erection against their bodies. Halperin denied grabbing a woman’s breasts and pressing his genitals against these three women.
The Halperin scandal capped an extraordinary week in which, among other developments, the number of women accusing screenwriter/director James Tobak of sexual harassment topped 300, while the number of women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, abuse, and rape, topped 70. Also, both United Talent Agency and WME announced they had dropped Bill O’Reilly in wake of a New York Times report he had personally settled a sex harassment allegation for $32 million, and the White House declared all of the women who accused President Trump of sexual harassment during the presidential campaign to be liars.