MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” paused Thursday morning to address a potentially awkward situation: Mark Halperin, the well-known political reporter and frequent contributor to the morning program, has been accused of sexual harassment by five women in a report posted Wednesday night by CNN.
“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.,” said co-host Mika Brzezinski, facing the camera. “We are going to be following this story as it develops I’m sure we are going to be talking about it again when we know more about it.” She did not address whether NBC News had taken any action regarding Halperin’s status as a contributor to the program.
CNN reported five women had come forward accusing the journalist, who has co-written several books about recent elections and contributes to the Showtime series “The Circus,” accusing him of sexual harassment in incidents ranging from propositioning them for sex to kissing to grabbing one’s breasts against her will.
“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.”
Halperin has been at the center of controversy on “Morning Joe” in the past. In 2011, MSNBC suspended him from his role as an analyst after he called President Barack Obama “a dick” on the program, an incident that prompted a shocked reaction from co-host Joe Scarborough in its immediate aftermath. ” We apologize to the President, The White House and all of our viewers. We strive for a high level of discourse and comments like these have no place on our air,” MSNBC said in a statement at the time, noting that it had suspended Halperin for an indefinite period. “My remark was unacceptable, and I deeply regret it,” Halperin said at the time.