On Wednesday, five women accused political pundit and best-selling author Mark Halperin of sexual harassment while the political journalist was at ABC News. The women’s previously undisclosed accounts, which were reported by CNN, described instances of Halperin propositioning female colleagues and making unwanted sexual advances in the workplace, including grabbing three of the women’s breasts and, while clothed, pressing his erection against them. On Thursday, former ABC News journalist Emily Miller said she too was “attacked” by Halperin. In a statement to CNN, Halperin admitted to trying to “pursue relationships” with his sometimes junior female colleagues; he denied allegations of sexual assault.
On Thursday, however, the Washington Post added numerous details to the allegations against Halperin, painting a more vivid picture of the political journalist’s workplace behavior. The Post also reported the first on the record account of Halperin’s sexual advances. Dianna Goldberg was a researcher at ABC News in 1994 and described repeated instances of sexual harassment by Halperin, who was 29 years old and the network’s political director at the time. Goldberg says she asked Halperin for some information about a story and agreed to meet him in his office. From the Post:
Close the door, he said when she arrived. Come over here, he said, seated at his desk. Sit down and I’ll give you the information, he said. He motioned to his lap. “What?” she remembers thinking. “I don’t want to sit on your lap.” But Halperin was the political director of the network, a rising star who was highly regarded by ABC’s management, including “World News Tonight” anchor Peter Jennings. Goldberg, who now goes by her married name, May, thought that refusing him could injure her career. She reluctantly agreed and sat down briefly. Halperin, she recalled on Wednesday, had an erection. The same routine happened on three or four other occasions, she said. Each instance left her confused, shaken and ashamed.
The Post spoke to nine women, including Goldberg, who now goes by the last name May, who were either aware of Halperin’s behavior or were personally subjected to it. Here are some of their accounts (from the Post):
One woman who worked with Halperin at ABC said in an interview that “he did a lot of inappropriate and creepy things. He would suggest that you come to his hotel room at late hours. He would call you at 2 in the morning — and not to discuss anything work-related…
Another woman who worked with Halperin said he would sometimes dangle his hotel key in front of a young colleague, mention his room number and invite her to his room. Halperin, based in New York, would often stay at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, across from ABC’s news bureau…
One woman said he appeared wearing only an open robe when a young campaign operative was summoned to deliver information to his hotel room…The women who spoke to The Post said Halperin was at his most aggressive during the 2004 campaign, when he was in charge of ABC News’s political coverage. As political director for the Disney-owned network, he was empowered to select the embeds, a low-level position but an important step in a highly competitive business.
After the allegations were revealed, Halperin, who no longer works for ABC News, lost his commentator roles on NBC and MSNBC, was dropped by his publisher Penguin Press, and had HBO cancel a project based on his book.