One of the last in-person events I had the fortune of attending before the pandemic was a “closed door” panel discussion on the excesses of cancel culture, orchestrated by a PR firm and featuring none other than Mark Halperin, a political pundit and Game Change coauthor who had lost his gig as an MSNBC senior political analyst at the crest of the MeToo movement.
Fourteen women alleged that Halperin had groped them or made unwanted sexual advances during and after his tenure as the political director of ABC News from 1997 to 2007. (Halperin has made vague apologies but disputed several of the allegations, such as slamming a woman into a wall, masturbating in front of another, and pressing an erection through his clothes onto three others.)
Onstage at the panel discussion, Halperin lamented society’s treatment of The Canceled, likening their experience to that of refugees. “Murderers in our society who get out of prison are afforded an opportunity to go on with some aspect of their life,” he said. “The challenge to a lot of people who are canceled is there’s no mechanism for that, regardless of what they’ve done, regardless of whether they’ve tried to make amends.”
Was I surprised, then, to read in Politico yesterday that Halperin was the highest paid-employee of the centrist political group No Labels in 2021, earning nearly $260,000 after being hired as a “senior communications adviser”? I shouldn’t have been. After all, it hadn’t taken long for the outcast to find his way. Even before his speaking gig on Cancel Culture, he’d published another book, and appeared on radio shows and podcasts. A few months after the panel, he scored his own weekend show on Newsmax, the right-wing cable network.
I’m sending best wishes to the staff at No Labels, who seem to be under some duress. Politico reports that co-executive directors Liz Morrison and Margaret White told multiple female employees to dress more modestly after a former member of Congress allegedly touched one of their colleagues inappropriately at a No Labels event. One of the group’s surrogates is former Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), who resigned a year after being accused of sexual misconduct by a lobbyist, Politico reports. And then there is Mark Halperin. According to the investigation:
No Labels said it has never had a complaint about any employees or contractors engaging in sexual harassment at the group. But one employee POLITICO spoke with expressed discomfort at having to work alongside Halperin and two others criticized management’s handling of the situation.
A former employee said that staffers were told by their bosses they could ask Halperin about the accusations on an introductory Zoom call. The forum became “very weird,” according to a person who was on the call. “What am I going to say to this man?”
Halperin did not respond to a request for comment.