Mark Halperin is a walking, breathing, eating apology.
He oozes remorse from his loins.
And it’s getting pretty gross.
Over the weekend, The Washington Post‘s media writer Paul Farhi wrote a tormenting takedown of Halperin for not apologizing to the women he harassed. Farhi quotes three women by name. Congratulations to Farhi on his scoop. But what about recompense for those of us who have to keep enduring these absurd quittances?
His story concludes with this exasperating line: “The three women say Halperin has not apologized to them.”
If I have to hear one more word of atonement out of Mark Halperin, I’m going to waterboard Paul Farhi.
None of the women in the story said they even wanted an apology from Halperin. They all, however, said he should not be able to return to the news industry because he is A. “A questionable narrator of the national conversation.” B. A possible detriment to “the next generation of young women who work in our newsrooms.” And C. “More concerned with rehabilitating his own career than…understanding the gravity of harm he caused.”
Halperin is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Mostly, he’s just damned. And, by the way, he’s sorry for that. He is sorry for every possible thing for which he can possibly be sorry. In 2017, NBC, MSNBC, HBO and Showtime all parted ways with Halperin after a dozen women accused him of everything from sexual harassment to assault while he worked at ABC. He denied assaulting the women, but acknowledged that he “pursued relationships” and treated some of them badly.
Feminist author Jessica Valenti tweeted late last week, “Just so no one forgets: Halperin is accused of pressing his erect penis against multiple women, grabbing a woman’s breasts, throwing a woman against a window & when rejected, calling a woman to tell her she’d never work in media again.”
Likewise, The Daily Beast‘s Washington Bureau Chief Jackie Kucinich recently wanted to refresh people’s memories on what Halperin allegedly did: “CNN: ‘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.'”
Geeky NYU journalism prof Jay Rosen also has concerns about Halperin, but they don’t involve his penis. “A note about Halperin’s return: he’s the opposite of a unique talent,” Rosen tweeted. “The style to which he helped give birth — savvy insider speculates on next moves in the game — is now ubiquitous, the consensus product among political journalists seeking that TV glow.”
Halperin’s TV parents Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough have been busting their Florida beach butts to get his left pinky toe back in the door. (Let’s be clear: Willie Geist is the favored son. But Halperin also has a soft spot in their “Morning Joe” hearts.) It’s true. Brzezinki knows Halperin’s value. But when she tried to set up meetings a few years ago between Halperin and his accusers, she got her ass handed to her and was forced to yes, apologize.
Mika seemed shocked that the women weren’t interested in meeting up with Halperin. “They don’t want to talk to him. They don’t want to talk to him,”she said twice for emphasis. And her apology: “In our discussion about sexual harassment this morning, I said some things that hurt people. In the case of Mark, my goal today was to start a conversation about hearing from the men whenever we can, but I realize that is not my place. It isn’t my call to make, and for that, I am truly sorry.”
Ex-BuzzFeeder John Stanton, now a writer in New Orleans, remarked, “Fuuuuuuck Mark Halperin.” Referring to Joe and Mika, he added, “And fuck these two for doing this.”
According to The Daily Beast, Joe and Mika recently tried to start up some online project to revive Halperin and bring him back into the family fold. No one at MSNBC was having it.
Halperin sent an apology statement to The Daily Beast because of course he did.
“I am deeply sorry and hope to have a chance to apologize directly to those I treated badly,” he said. “It is the right and necessary thing to do. I cannot imagine how difficult this experience has been for them. I hope this will be a further step in my continued efforts to fully comprehend and make amends for the pain that I have caused.”
Even Roland Martin is anti-Halperin. Which is significant because Martin has a big mouth. (The name of his show is RolandMartinUnfiltered for a reason.) The one thing I take issue with is Martin calling on Halperin to, um, APOLOGIZE directly to the women he hurt.
“A public apology from @MarkHalperin means nothing until he personally apologizes to these women directly,” he tweeted Sunday. “They were impacted and hurt, not us.”
Actually, we are all suffering from Halperin apology fatigue.
Halperin replied to Martin Sunday with an apology and excuses.
Note that the former journalist never admits he sexually harassed anyone.
“I am deeply sorry and hope to have a chance to apologize directly to those I treated badly,” he tweeted. “It is the right and necessary thing to do. I cannot imagine how difficult this experience has been for them. I hope this will be a further step in my continued efforts to fully comprehend and make amends for the pain that I have caused. I believe it is vitally important to protect the privacy of victims of sexual harassment. So let me just say this: I also believe it is vitally important for those victims to determine if, when, and how their harasser apologizes directly to them.”
I love it when Mark Halperin talks about sexual harassment in the third person.
When Rodney Martin (no relation to Roland) accused Martin of engaging in mob mentality, Martin shot back, “How is it accusations when he says he wants to apologize to the women? That’s called an admission of guilty. You aren’t that bright. …The women who were directly affected are owed an apology more than anyone else.”
It must be strange to run into Halperin anywhere these days. Here’s how I imagine that might go.
Person X: Hi Mark, how are you?
Halperin: I’m sorry!
Person Y: Excuse me, sir, do you have the time?
Halperin: I apologize!
Person Z: Sir, what would you like for lunch?
Halperin: I’m sorry! I apologize!
Person Z: Sir?
During his recent smarmy appearance on SiriusXM’s Michael Smerconish program, he made all kinds of weird remarks — and later apologized for them. For much of the show, contrition dripped from his lips. One especially cringey moment was when Smerconish asked, “You ready to talk politics?” Halperin replied, “Up to you. I’m willing to talk about politics or anything else you like.” (He’s also willing to clean Smerconish’s toilet if that would help anything.)
Before they did actually discuss politics, Halperin — damn him — launched into another apology.
“I’ll just emphasize again that I couldn’t be more sorry for what I did and have had so much time to think about it and I’m just, I’m grateful to The Fortune Society,” he said. “I’m also so grateful to the people who have been willing to share their experiences with me. Women who have been sexually harassed [have] explained to me why it’s such a deeply troubling thing, to give me a fuller understanding. And as I said, I’m not done. I’m not done learning. I’m not done understanding myself or understanding this problem in our society, and I feel that I’ve learned enough that hopefully I can be allowed to be reintegrated into society a little bit more, and to be able to use the experiences I’ve had to be a productive part of making things better and contributing.”
At one point in his interview with Smerconish, Halperin made this totally perplexing remark: “I’d be happy to be judged by perfect people.”
Here’s the fuller context:
“I’d like to take the opportunity again to apologize to the women I mistreated who told their stories and who were hurt by me,” he said, also apologizing to his family, friends and colleagues. “… I wasn’t a perfect person when I made these mistakes. I’m not a perfect person now. I’m happy to be judged by perfect people, but what I want to do is continue to understand and have conversations. I want to be someone who can work…because I have to support a family. I want my son to grow up respecting me and seeing in me a fuller person.”
During the radio hit, Halperin made what felt like 1,000 apologies for allegedly harassing, abusing or assaulting women when he worked at ABC. He said he spoke with “hundreds” of women to try to get in touch with his inner creeper and understand why what he did was wrong.
Sure, he knows he did something wrong. He’s sorry. He apologizes. He’s volunteered with murderers. He’s sorry. He apologizes. He’s helped murderer’s piece their lives back together. He’s sorry. He apologizes. Did he mention that he has helped murderers reenter society with ordinary humans? He’s sorry. He apologizes. Can’t he just have a TV job back in politics already? How many times does he have to apologize for this to happen?
I’m starting to think all this apologizing won’t stop until a network executive says these magical words: “You’re hired.”
But here’s the problem: Halperin’s sorry schtick is getting annoying, skeevy and phony-seeming. And yes, it has been 18 months and it feels too soon.
Halperin should take signals from the masters.
You don’t see ex-CBSer Charlie Rose blathering apologies for walking around naked while a 21-year-old female staffer worked at his home. He reportedly told her about his fantasies of her swimming in the nude. He apologized for his “deeply inappropriate” behavior but said he thought he was “pursuing shared feelings.” His accuser total: 8.
You don’t see ex-NBCer Matt Lauer leaving his $33 million Hampton’s enclave to repeatedly apologize for fucking an underling and locking his office door with a fancy button so they could have privacy. He publicly expressed regret twice without admitting that he abused anyone or behaved aggressively and left it alone. Last month he made a “rare” appearance at CNN President Jeff Zucker‘s birthday party. He’s not plotting any TV comeback just yet.
And lastly, you don’t see Harvey Weinstein apologizing for anything, and his list of casting couch atrocities is too long and grotesque to put in a nice, neat sentence.
A week ago, the Washington Examiner‘s Eddie Scarry included Halperin in the same breath as Weinstein, calling them both “creepy horndogs.”
I hear Halperin wasn’t happy with that line.
Perhaps he deserves an apology.