Less than four years after his career collapsed in a flood of sexual misconduct allegations, disgraced journalist Mark Halperin has angled his way back into professional Washington, landing a consulting gig with the bipartisan policy organization No Labels, according to Punchbowl News.
Back in 2017, the Game Change co-author and TV news pundit was accused by nine women of sexual harassment, unwanted touching and physical assault, according to The Washington Post. One former female coworker of Halperin’s told CNN that Halperin once masturbated behind his desk in front of her. Some of the victims said Halperin threatened professional retaliation in order to keep them silent, according to Punchbowl.
Though Halperin has denied touching any of his accusers without their consent, according to The Post, he has conceded that he did try to date women in his office, and he has said that his “behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize.” In the wake of the scandal, Halperin was fired from NBC news and HBO scrapped its plans to turn “Game Change” into a TV series.
In the years since, Harlperin has repeatedly tried to make a comeback in political media. He’s launched his own political blog and made appearances on the Newsmax, the far right media outlet. In 2019, he published a book about the 2020 election, quoting a slew of political operatives. After the book was announced, a predictable backlash took place, and the operatives he had quoted began making a series of increasingly awkward explanations about how they had come to cooperate with Halperin, one of the most prominent #metoo figures in political media.
Now, with his No Labels gig, Harlperin has managed to regain a foothold in a more respectable Washington institution—albeit one that gets dinged occasionally for being more interested in balancing right and left than navigating right and wrong. No Labels’s co-chairs are Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman.
In a statement to Punchbowl news, No Labels senior adviser Margaret White said the organization believed Harlperin was deserving of a second chance:
“His 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. 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. 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.”
A lot of people would beg to disagree.
In a Tweet Tuesday, Gretchen Carlson—the ex Fox News personality whose sexual harassment allegations against Roger Ailes were settled by a $20 million payout from her former employer—expressed skepticism of No Labels’s decision:
“Trying to understand. @NoLabelsOrg says enough time has passed to hire harrasser Mark Halperin while women who come forward never work again. Corporate America: We @LiftOurVoicesUS challenge you to change.”
Trying to understand. @NoLabelsOrg says enough time has passed to hire harrasser Mark Halperin while women who come forward never work again. Corporate America: We @LiftOurVoicesUS challenge you to change. #bringbackwomen @julieroginsky @dianafalzone https://t.co/q9FFk1tSV1
— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) April 20, 2021
Others in the media mocked No Labels for its decision.
Susan Davis, who covers Congress for NPR:
“Curious what kind of consulting work leads a group to conclude: Only Mark Halperin can help us here.”
Curious what kind of consulting work leads a group to conclude: Only Mark Halperin can help us here. https://t.co/bCPQhSkO6I
— Susan Davis (@DaviSusan) April 20, 2021
Matt Negrin, of The Daily Show:
“Not a good sign that on your first day at ‘No Labels’ you couldn’t even get the announcement about your new job at ‘No Labels’ to remove the label ‘disgraced journalist’ from the headline.”
Not a good sign that on your first day at "No Labels" you couldn't even get the announcement about your new job at "No Labels" to remove the label "disgraced journalist" from the headlinehttps://t.co/fxCG49J5hX
— Matt Negrin, HOST OF HARDBALL AT 7PM ON MSNBC (@MattNegrin) April 20, 2021