Multiple women have accused Mark Halperin, a veteran journalist who co-wrote the book Game Change about the 2008 presidential election, of sexually harassing them while he worked at ABC News, according to a CNN report.
Five women told CNN’s Oliver Darcy that Halperin propositioned employees while he was in a powerful position at ABC. Three women accused Halperin of pressing his genitals against them while clothed, and one said he grabbed her breasts against her will. He has denied those allegations to CNN.
An additional two women accused Halperin of sexual misconduct as news of the allegations spread. Reporter Emily Miller said on Twitter late Wednesday that she too was assaulted while working as a junior employee at ABC, but did not elaborate on her story. Another journalist, who spoke to The Daily Beast anonymously to speak candidly, said that Halperin made unwanted advances towards her more than a decade ago that were “just shameless.” Both women told the Beast their accounts were separate to those reported by CNN.
One woman came forward publicly with her allegations of sexual misconduct in The Washington Post.
Dianna Goldberg told the newspaper she worked as a researcher at ABC News in 1994 when Halperin asked her to sit on his lap while they were in his office. Goldberg, who now goes by her married name, May, said she reluctantly complied, fearing repercussions to her career if she ignored Halperin’s request. She said he made similar requests on several subsequent occasions.
Halperin told CNN in a statement Wednesday night: “During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me. 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.”
Halperin, 52, has held several senior positions at many prestigious news outlets, most recently as senior political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. He stepped down from his role at NBC pending investigation of the incidents, the network said in a statement.
Savannah Guthrie briefly mentioned the report Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show. Mika Brzezinski, who hosts MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” also addressed the allegations on air. Halperin has been a frequent guest on the show.
“CNN is reporting allegations regarding our friend Mark Halperin over a decade ago, unnamed sources detailing unwanted advances and inappropriate behavior,” Brzezinski said during Thursday’s episode. “Halperin apologized for the pain his actions caused... we will be following this story as it develops. I’m sure we will be talking about it again when we know more about it.”
The women in the CNN report, who asked the outlet to keep their identities private, did not report Halperin to ABC management out of fear of retribution. None of the women told the outlet that Halperin threatened to retaliate against them or promised anything in exchange for sex.
“Mark left ABC News over a decade ago, and no complaints were filed during his tenure,” ABC News told CNN in a statement.
Game Change was published in 2010, and two years later was turned into an HBO film starring Julianne Moore as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The network said Thursday afternoon that it would no longer proceed with making a film about the 2016 presidential election based on a book written by Halperin and John Heilemann.
CNN’s Darcy tweeted late Thursday that Penguin, the publisher of Halperin’s upcoming account of the 2016 election, the third Game Change book, had canceled plans to release it with his co-author, John Heilemann.
The allegations are the latest in a string of sweeping news reports that have sent shock waves through the media industry, beginning with an Oct. 5 report in The New York Times that alleged film executive Harvey Weinstein had sexually harassed and assaulted women for decades. And Amazon Studios head Roy Price resigned earlier this month after a producer publicly accused him of sexual harassment.
Read CNN’s full report here.
This article has been updated with additional details and responses to the allegations. Alana Horowitz Satlin contributed reporting.
BEFORE YOU GO
Garai said that she felt “violated” by Weinstein, who was fired from his namesake company on Oct. 8 in the wake of numerous sexual harassment allegations.
"I said no to him professionally many times over the years," she wrote, "some of which ended up with him screaming at me calling me a cunt and making threats, some of which made him laughingly tell people, 'Oh, Kate lives to say no to me.'"
“Before I knew it, he started trying to pull my clothes off and pin me down and I just kept saying ‘no, no, no.' But he was really forceful," she said. "I remember him pulling at my trousers and stuff and looming over me and I just sort of – I am a big, strong girl and I bolted ... ran for the bathroom and locked the door. I was in there for a while I think, he went very quiet. After a while I remember opening the door and seeing him just there facing the door masturbating, so I quickly closed the door again and locked it. Then when I heard room service come to the door I just ran."
“He started to tell me that he found me very attractive and wanted to have relations with me. I told him I was very in love with my companion. He replied that didn’t bother him at all and offered to have me be his mistress a few days a year. That way we could continue to work together. Basically, it was, ‘If you want to continue in America, you have to go through me,’" Darel said. She says she left quickly and told Weinstein: “I’m sorry, I have to leave.”
She also said she had three dinners with Weinstein during which he allegedly boasted about the actresses he'd slept with and joked that a pilot "was on standby because he could never get me to sleep with him."
Finally, the producer would not allow the actress to board her flight to New York, insisting she ride in his private plane. Weinstein allegedly ordered airport personnel to remove Sagemiller's bags from her flight from Toronto and deliver her to the runway where his plane was awaiting takeoff.
"If my manager called me tomorrow and said, 'Actually, I remember there was this movie you were up for, and now that I’m thinking back on it, maybe [rebuffing Weinstein is] why you didn’t get it,' I wouldn’t be surprised at all," the actress said.
“That night... I went out to a premiere after party that Harvey Weinstein was also at. He motioned for me to come over to him, and then grabbed me to sit me on his lap," she said. "I was so surprised and shocked I couldn’t stop laughing because it was so awkward. But then I could feel that he had an erection. I got quiet, but got off his lap quickly. He then asked me to come outside with him and other things I don’t want to share, but it was implied that if I did not comply with doing what he asked me to do that I would not get the role that I had already been informally offered. I laughed in his face as I was in shock and so uncomfortable. I left the party right after that.”
Subkoff said the offer for the role was rescinded and she felt that her reputation was "ruined by false gossip."
"I was called ‘too difficult to work with. It became impossible for me to get work as an actress after this."
She continued: “I was genuinely shocked. I remember thinking, it’s got to be a joke. I said something like, ‘Oh, come on, mate?!?? It’d be like kissing my dad!!’” Headey suggested her rebuff might have cost her roles in other projects helmed by Weinstein, because she was never cast again.
“He told me I looked stressed. He said that maybe he thought I could use a massage. Maybe I could give him a massage,” she said. When she refused, she said, Weinstein told her it would be a “bad decision” and would hurt her career if she left. But, Holly said, she "pushed him and ran.”
Weinstein allegedly told the actress not to tell anyone that she had been alone with him. "He tried to take my hand and put it in his lap which is when I managed to leave the room," she wrote.
The producer allegedly told her: "I waited for the masseuse, but she's late. We can have fun without her. Let's relax." When Mtsitouridze hesitated, she said, Weinstein told her, "You will love it. I'm a guru in this matter. You never met a man like me." Mtsitouridze said she was frozen but took her opportunity to leave when a waiter came into the room with an ice bucket for Champagne.
Mtsitouridze said she ran into Weinstein at the Cannes Film Festival a decade later and he told her quietly: "Don't even think about saying anything. Forget all about it. Be a smart girl."
"He told me that he has a lot of 'special friends' and they give each other massages," Coughlan said. "It was a full-court press. He wanted me to be one of his 'special friends' and go into the bedroom. I told him that I had a serious boyfriend and reminded him that he was married and that we should keep this professional. I was so blindsided. Not one ounce of me anticipated it. It was the weirdest meeting I've ever had in my life." Weinstein allegedly made the offer several other times, to which Coughlan always refused.
She also accused the Hollywood mogul of abruptly ending a dinner with her after she declined his invitation to come up to his hotel room.
"I was stunned," she said. "I told him I preferred to eat in the restaurant. He told me not to be so naïve. If I wanted to be an actress, then I had to be willing to do this sort of thing. He said he had dated Famous Actress X and Y and look where that had gotten them."
She added, "I was silent for a while before I mustered up the courage to politely decline his offer."
"I personally experienced him pulling his you-know-what out of his pants in order to shock me. My basic response was, ‘You know, Harvey, I really don’t think you should be pulling that thing out. It’s not very pretty.’” The actress said she left the room and refused to meet with the producer again.
Haleyi described more than one incident of sexual harassment. She claimed Weinstein once attempted to persuade her to give him a massage and also once forced himself into her apartment after she declined an invitation to join him in Paris. During one instance, Haleyi said she and Weinstein were watching TV when he began making sexual advances toward her.
“I said, ‘I am on my period. There is no way this is going to happen. Please stop.’ He wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Haleyi said, adding that the producer then held her on her bed and assaulted her.
She wrote: "I, too, was asked to meet him in a hotel bar. I, too, met a young, female assistant there who said the meeting had been moved upstairs to his suite because he was a very busy man. I, too, felt my guard go up but was calmed by the presence of another woman my age beside me. I, too, felt terror in the pit of my stomach when that young woman left the room and I was suddenly alone with him. I, too, was asked if I wanted a massage, champagne, strawberries. I, too, sat in that chair paralyzed by mounting fear when he suggested we shower together."