Shame Change: Now It’s Halperin the Harasser?

Since the titans of television news fancy themselves as stars in their own right, it only makes sense that they would try to emulate the glitz and glamor of Hollywood.

But the sex scandals? That’s a bit extreme, if you ask me. Alas, if what CNN reports is true, then it appears as if there was a good reason that Harvey Weinstein got so chummy with reporters. Turns out, they’re not so different from him:

Veteran journalist Mark Halperin sexually harassed women while he was in a powerful position at ABC News, according to five women who shared their previously undisclosed accounts with CNN…

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.

But women who spoke to CNN say he also had a dark side not made public until now. The stories of harassment shared with CNN range in nature from propositioning employees for sex to kissing and grabbing one’s breasts against her will. Three of the women who spoke to CNN described Halperin as, without consent, pressing an erection against their bodies while he was clothed.

Sound familiar? Throw in a bathrobe and a quick massage, and Halperin would be a dead ringer for Harvey.

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.”

Okay, this is getting to be uncanny. Did Halperin spend a lot of time at Miramax taking notes? Or maybe he and Harvey went to the same fetish conventions, dressed in matching costumes?

The second woman, another former ABC News employee, described a similar experience in his office during the 2004 campaign cycle.

“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.

Eww. Thank goodness there wasn’t a potted plant nearby, or things might have really gotten ugly.

She also alleged that Halperin propositioned her for sex on the campaign trail.

“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.”

Wow. It sounds like he got his pickup lines from an article in a 1978 issue of Penthouse: “She Wants You, She Just Doesn’t Know It Yet.” Personally, I’d like to know if it ever actually worked—because I can’t see any woman falling for it. Even after five shots of Jaegermeister.

Of course, Halperin is denying that he ever forced himself on anyone, but this one tidbit from the story is telling:

“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.”

Properly deal is mediaspeak for “consulting my lawyer to see what my options are.”

MSNBC, where Halperin makes frequent appearances on “Morning Joe,” said early Thursday that Halperin would leave his roles at that network and as an analyst at NBC News.

“We find the story and the allegations very troubling,” MSNBC said in a statement. “Mark Halperin is leaving his role as a contributor until the questions around his past conduct are fully understood.”

In other words, there’s enough fire with this smoke for NBC to distance themselves from Halperin. Plus the network is already in dutch for spiking Ronan Farrow’s Weistein expose. They don’t want any more of this kind of stink on them.

But hey, that’s showbiz.

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