Mark Halperin | Media Matters for America

Mark Halperin

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  • Matt Lauer is the fourth NBCUniversal employee to be publicly named for sexual misconduct in recent weeks

    Matt Lauer's misogyny was no secret

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Early this morning, a now-familiar pattern of events unfolded: A prominent media figure was named as a reported perpetrator of sexual misconduct and reporters from other outlets quickly confirmed they’d been working on stories about it. This time it was NBC’s Matt Lauer, and no one seemed surprised -- particularly because the network has been very publicly struggling to adequately address sexual harassment and misogyny for over a year now.

    On November 29, Today co-host Savannah Guthrie, seated next to colleague Hoda Kotb, announced that NBC had terminated Lauer after receiving a “detailed complaint about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” The statement from NBC News chairman Andy Lack, from which Guthrie read on-air, also stated that the network had reason to believe the report was not an isolated incident.

    Almost immediately, several reporters confirmed that they’d been working on investigations of Lauer or were aware of investigations and that NBC knew about the coming stories as well. At least one reporter, Yashar Ali, said he’d spoken with women privately about Lauer even before The New York Times published its first story on reports of harassment and assault by Harvey Weinstein in early October.

    Lauer’s misogyny was certainly no secret, either -- he had publicly berated women, victim-blamed, and reinforced sexist stereotypes in interviews before. In 2012, when former co-host Ann Curry was reportedly pushed out of the network, Lauer and the “boys’ club atmosphere” at Today were implicated.

    And in September, Lauer interviewed serial sexual predator Bill O’Reilly, giving him space to attack a woman who had reported him for harassment and deny knowledge about the multiple settlements he’d reached for misconduct. NBC’s decision to give Lauer and O’Reilly an 8 a.m. slot to broadcast such an insulting conversation to more than 4 million people -- predominantly women, who are likely to have themselves experienced workplace sexual harassment -- was still far from the first time NBC has struggled to send the right message on sexual misconduct.

    Lauer is the fourth NBCUniversal employee to be publicly named for sexual misconduct -- in the case of Lauer, reported assault -- since the Weinstein reports. Earlier in November, Variety wrote that Matt Zimmerman, the senior vice president of booking for NBC News who oversaw the department that likely invited O’Reilly to appear on Today, had been fired following reports he’d “engaged in inappropriate conduct with more than one woman at NBCU.”

    On October 26, two different NBCUniversal employees were publicly reported for workplace sexual harassment: Mark Halperin and Ken Baker. Baker, a correspondent for the NBC-owned E! News, is currently off the air pending an internal investigation into multiple reports of inappropriate text messages and an unwanted kiss. Halperin, who was an MSNBC contributor and NBC News analyst, was fired following a flood of reports detailing serial sexual harassment and assault while he worked at ABC News.  

    NBC has also notoriously maintained silence on several reports related to harassment and assault by powerful men outside of its offices. Freelance NBC News correspondent Ronan Farrow publicly called out his employer for passing on his months-long investigation into multiple reports of harassment and assault by Weinstein; the piece eventually ran in The New Yorker.

    Last fall, the network sat on the Access Hollywood footage depicting President Donald Trump bragging about committing sexual assault and was eventually scooped by another outlet. It subsequently waffled on firing its own employee, Billy Bush, for his participation in the damning exchange.

    NBC is now among the list of media outlets that must grapple with reporting on sexual misconduct by its own employees. Addressing the reports against Lauer -- which seem likely to grow in number -- and the behavior he exhibited behind-the-scenes at NBC for decades gives the network an opportunity to change its course. It remains to be seen if NBC will take this chance to begin sending better messages to its employees and viewers about who and what it will value and protect.

  • Mark Halperin’s speakers bureau deleted him from its website

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Washington Speakers Bureau removed its client listing for reporter Mark Halperin, who has been accused by numerous women of sexual harassment.

    The company did not respond to requests for comment.

    CNN recently reported that “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 and others who did not experience the alleged harassment personally, but were aware of it.” The Daily Beast has additionally reported that “two more women came forward with their own allegations.”

    MSNBC announced that he will no longer appear as a contributor on the network “until the questions around his past conduct are fully understood.” HBO issued a statement saying it was “no longer proceeding” with a miniseries based on some of his work. And Penguin Press announced that it has “decided to cancel our plans to publish a book he was co-authoring on the 2016 election.”

    Washington Speakers Bureau is one of the leading companies that books speaking engagements for notable personalities. Until recently, the company stated that it "exclusively" represented Halperin for speeches. Halperin’s profile listed his fee as ranging from “$15,001” to “$25,000.”

    That client listing for Halperin has now been removed from the Washington Speakers Bureau website, though it is not clear exactly when the company removed the listing (Google cache’s most recent update was from October 23). A search of “Halperin” on the company’s site before posting does not return any booking pages for him. 

    Screenshot image via Internet Archive.

  • Media Can't Stop Pining For Another Trump Pivot

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Media seized on President Donald Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress as an opportunity for him to “pivot” or “reset” his administration. This canard that he would at some point change course was repeated throughout the presidential campaign, yet any shifts that occurred were always short-lived.

  • Pundits Defend Trump’s Dangerous Phone Call With Taiwan’s President

    Experts In Asian Pacific Studies And International Relations Warn It “Raises The Risk Of Diplomatic Disaster”

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Pundits are defending President-elect Donald Trump’s protocol-shattering phone conversation with Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen as “terrific” and saying it will have “no cost to America,” but experts in Asian Pacific studies and international relations warn that the move “does not bode well for US-China relations” and “raises the risk of diplomatic disaster.”

  • Bloomberg Announces The End Of Mark Halperin’s Daily TV Show

    Bonafide Trump Apologist Mark Halperin Defied His Own Journalistic Standards When Covering Trump

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s Bloomberg politics show, With All Due Respect, will end daily broadcasts on December 2. Halperin used his platform on Bloomberg, which was re-broadcast daily by MSNBC, to defend then-candidate Donald Trump.

    The Huffington Post reports that a staff memo announced the show’s cancellation on December 2, but the two will host a four-hour special previewing Trump’s Inauguration on January 20. Both co-hosts are reportedly in discussions to “play a role at Bloomberg” as contributors and columnists.

    Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s afternoon politics show on Bloomberg TV, “With All Due Respect,” will end following coverage of Donald Trump’s inauguration, according to a staff memo.

    Halperin and Heilemann, who joined in May 2014 and served as co-managing editors of Bloomberg Politics, will continue to host the show daily until Dec. 2. Bloomberg will produce four hourlong specials previewing Trump’s presidency and then cover the event on Jan. 20.

    The two journalists will cease day-to-day roles with the company, but according to the memo are in discussions to “play a role at Bloomberg as contributors and columnists.”

    Halperin joined Bloomberg in May 2014 for reportedly $1 million and has come under intense scrutiny throughout the 2016 election cycle for his role as a bonafide Trump apologist. Halperin’s embarrassing shilling for Trump included his insistence that Trump’s racist attacks on the American judge of Mexican descent weren’t actually racist because “Mexico isn’t a race,” criticizing The New York Times for responding to Trump’s threat to take legal action against them, and brushing off Trump’s reluctance to accept the election results as a concern of “elites.” Halperin even praised the “impressive resume” of Trump adviser and white nationalist ally Stephen Bannon. Heilemann and Halperin also conducted an interview with Trump on a Zamboni where they asked him how much bacon he eats and whether or not he knows how to skate and during a campaign trip to Iowa, Halperin received helicopter ride from Trump:

    More recently, Halperin failed to live up to the standards he had set for other journalists by giving Trump a shameless softball interview in which he failed to ask him about his hidden tax returns – an issue that Halperin had previously said journalists were “obligated” to ask Trump about every chance they got. The interview, described as “truly laughable,” looked even worse in hindsight when several days later Halperin challenged the press “to do a lot of soul-searching about its failure to pursue a lot of these Trump stories.”

    In 2006, Halperin claimed that the best economic model to ensure a TV show’s survival is to follow the Fox News model and “make sure conservatives find your product appealing.” That model seems to be working for Halperin who despite losing his show, has received movie deals, book deals, and continues to be one of the most visible political commentators in America.

  • Media Discover Due Caution When It Comes To Reporting About Trump

    But Where Was That Prudence On Clinton Email Reporting? 

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    The media’s four-alarm fire drill over FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the bureau would further investigate more emails related to its Hillary Clinton server investigation stands in stark contrast to the cautious, measured approach the press took when reporting on several stories about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russian entities. The divergent approaches to the so-called “October surprises” underscore the media’s double standard when reporting on Clinton and Trump.

    After Comey released a letter on October 28 to congressional leaders stating that “the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the [Clinton email] investigation” and that the bureau was going to “review these emails” (which may or may not be “significant”), the chorus of pundits hyping the DEFCON 1 “bombshell” was unrestrained, despite the dearth of information about the FBI’s decision or next moves.

    With scarcely any details about the new developments, cable news talking heads -- relying solely on Comey’s vague letter and Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-UT) misleading spin that the investigation was “reopened” -- hyped the news as “damaging” and called it “a dramatic new twist” and “an exclamation point on the end of a horrible week for Clinton and the Democrats.” Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin crowed that the “presidential race has been rocked by another head-scratching, rally-bending, M. Knight Shyamalan-worthy plot twist.”

    CNN’s Brooke Baldwin even conceded that “there is so much we do not know,” yet nevertheless declared that “it’s a significant story … [with] 11 days to go.” Indeed, the media’s immediate email coverage relied solely on speculation, but it sounded as if the damage and implications were definitive: So much was made of so little. 

    Contrast the Clinton email reaction with that to the litany of stories that were published on October 31 about Trump: that Trump allegedly has a secret server that communicates with a shady Russian bank; that the Russian government has allegedly “for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump”; that the FBI is reportedly “conducting a preliminary inquiry” into the “foreign business connections” of Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort; and that Comey was reluctant “to name Russia as meddling in the U.S. election” because “it was too close to Election Day.” The double standard becomes pretty clear.

    CNN’s Erin Burnett, referring to the CNBC and Huffington Post stories about Comey’s objection to naming Russia as an “election meddler,” said that “CNN has not been able to corroborate” the reporting. Likewise, CNN’s Alisyn Camerota asserted that “reports about [the Trump] campaign’s links to Russia” were “uncorroborated.” On MSNBC, Bloomberg’s Megan Murphy called the series of Trump stories “Russian conspiracy theories,” and MSNBC host Craig Melvin calmly asked about the “new information” regarding “possible Russian business ties in the Trump campaign” (emphasis added).

    The media’s treatment of the Trump stories with a cautious eye is not unwelcomed -- in fact, it embodies the best possible way to report on new developments with limited information and uncorroborated claims. As it turns out, the veracity of some of the allegations about Trump’s Russian ties seemingly came into question hours after the initial reports, with The New York Times reporting that no FBI “investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government.” The media’s measured approach to the initial spate of stories was thus a proper safeguard for reporting on stories that may or may not be true.

    But the overhyped media freakout, the rush to judgment, the presumption of guilt, and the reliance on GOP spin after the FBI letter was publicized couldn’t have been further from the media’s approach to the Trump stories, and the disparity falls in line with what James Carville calls the “Clinton Rule”: “There shall be one standard for covering everyone else in public life, and another standard for the Clintons.”

    Media figures qualified the Trump-Russia stories by noting that they were unproven allegations with little supporting information, yet they didn’t give that same benefit to the FBI email story (for which, to be sure, there is even less information). The cautious reporting isn’t the problem; the double standard is. 

  • Trump Avoided Confronting His Scandals In The Media, Save For George Stephanopoulos

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    ABC’s George Stephanopoulos was the only national reporter who questioned Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump about the many scandals that have dogged his campaign during his weeks-long appearance hiatus on all major cable news networks outside of Fox News.

    As the presidential debates approached, Trump deliberately retreated to Fox News, where he received softball interviews from friendly hosts such as Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Since the debates began, Trump has rarely appeared outside of conservative news outlets. Prior to interviews this week, Trump had not appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, or MSNBC since September 7.

    Trump reappeared on mainstream networks after the ribbon-cutting ceremony for his new hotel in Washington, D.C., but of the five outlets that received access, Stephanopoulos was the only reporter to ask Trump about the numerous scandals plaguing his presidential campaign.

    Stephanopoulos, unlike any other media figure who received one-on-one access at the hotel, pressed Trump on his threat to file lawsuits against the numerous women who have accused him of sexual assault and his assertion that the Clinton campaign orchestrated the women to lie about the allegations. He also forced Trump to answer to his claim that FBI director James Comey is corrupt, asked if he thinks he owes Judge Gonzalo Curiel and the family of Khizr Khan apologies, and corrected his false claim that he opposed the Iraq war from the start.

    Bloomberg News editor Mark Halperin and CNN reporter Dana Bash also spoke with Trump after his hotel ribbon cutting, but neither confronted problems that have weighed down Trump’s campaign in recent weeks, although Bash did question whether it was a good idea for Trump to take time out of campaigning to open his hotel. Halperin avoided the topics entirely, instead tossing Trump softball questions about his confidence in polling data and if he was feeling “under the weather” because he reportedly ate a throat lozenge.

    Prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony, Trump granted interviews to only two non-Fox News sources. Trump phoned into radio host Rush Limbaugh’s show unannounced on October 25. Limbaugh sympathized with Trump’s claims that the media is conspiring against him and praised Trump for “fighting back” against his critics. Limbaugh also asked Trump how he would approach the Affordable Care Act. Christian Broadcasting Networks’ Pat Robertson also recieved on-camera time with Trump for The 700 Club on October 24, but chose to ask Trump about hiring employees, appointing women to his administration, nominating Supreme Court justices, and growing the economy through proposed tax cuts, rather than addressing any controversies surrounding his campaign.

    Trump’s strategy of retreating to conservative media outlets and blacking out interviews with non-Fox News media figures allowed him to bypass many of the scandals he created for himself, and to d successfully avoid being held accountable during the peak of each scandal. Interviewers who neglected to press Trump on his numerous scandals t failed in their fundamental duty of holding Trump accountable for the events that happen during his campaign.