A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
Mark Halperin, who has tried to make a comeback since he was exiled from the news industry in 2017 over allegations of sexual harassment and assault, has inked a book deal with Regan Arts, Politico reported on Sunday. Halperin’s book is called “How to Beat Trump: America’s Top Political Strategists on What It Will Take,” Politico reported, and will come out in November.
Playbook says Halperin spoke to more than 75 top Democrats for the book. They reportedly include: Jill Alper, David Axelrod, Bob Bauer, Donna Brazile, James Carville, Tad Devine, Anita Dunn, Karen Dunn, Adrienne Elrod, Jennifer Granholm, Ben LaBolt, Jeff Link, Jim Margolis, Mike McCurry, Mark Mellman, Amanda Renteria, John Sasso, Kathleen Sebelius, Bob Shrum, Ginny Terzano, and David Wilhelm.
It’s unclear how much the deal is worth, or how widely the book will even be distributed. Halperin did not respond to my calls or texts on Sunday, and neither did Regan Arts or its head Judith Regan…
Flashback: This is what Halperin was accused of
It has been nearly two years, so it’s worth recalling what conduct Halperin was accused of in 2017. Back then, I spoke to multiple women who said that Halperin sexually harassed or assaulted them. The stories of harassment ranged in nature, from him propositioning employees for sex to kissing and grabbing one’s breasts against her will.
Three women who spoke to me described Halperin as, without consent, pressing an erection against their bodies while he was clothed. One woman told me Halperin masturbated in front of her in his office, while another told me that he violently threw her against a restaurant window before attempting to kiss her, and that when she rebuffed him he called her and told her she would never work in politics or media.
Halperin apologized in 2017 for some of his behavior, but he denied grabbing a woman’s breasts, pressing his genitals against women, masturbating in front of anyone, and threatening the career of a woman…
Judith Regan’s history
Controversy, of course, is no stranger to Judith Regan. In 2006, she drew widespread scrutiny when she attempted to release a book by OJ Simpson titled “If I Did It.” The book — a purported hypothetical account of the 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman — was set to be released under her imprint at HarperCollins, and she had even planned to do a TV special with Simpson that would have appeared on Fox. But after the criticism, News Corp. canceled that project and she was later fired.
Now Regan is bracing for controversy again. Her statement to Politico: “I do not in any way, shape, or form condone any harm done by one human being to another. I have also lived long enough to believe in the power of forgiveness, second chances, and offering a human being a path to redemption. HOW TO BEAT TRUMP is an important, thoughtful book, and I hope everyone has a chance to read it.”
Press Forward’s reaction
Shortly after news of Halperin’s book was made public, Press Forward, the organization that is made up of several women who have accused Halperin of sexual misconduct, released a statement. In the statement, Press Forward argued that “Americans will continue to lose trust in the news media if a journalist who covers scandals can commit the same crimes he reports on and face no serious consequences, then continue to be a narrator of the national conversation.”
“Press Forward is disappointed in Regan Arts’ decision to publish and promote a book by Mark Halperin, who has been credibly accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct, harassment and assault,” the organization said. “We hope those involved will reconsider their support in enabling people who have shown no accountability or atonement for their actions.”
What I’m hearing from his accusers
Throughout the day on Sunday, I spoke to several of the women who have accused Halperin of sexual harassment or assault. Eleanor McManus, who was one of the first women to accuse Halperin on the record, criticized political professionals who spoke to Halperin for the book: “I can’t believe these people spoke to him. The fact that so many people spoke to him sets the whole #MeToo movement back. And it shows they are enabling him and re-traumatizing the victims.”
I asked McManus if Halperin had ever reached out to her to apologize for his actions. “He has not reached out to me,” she replied. “He has not. And I’m pretty easy to reach.” McManus added, “It’s been almost two years and he has not apologized.”
I also spoke to Emily Miller, who has accused Halperin of assault. Miller told me she was at a baseball game when she received a text with the news. “I had to leave the seats and sit in the hall to breathe,” Miller said. “I get this reaction when I am scared he will be a danger again. And he is a danger when he has power and fame, which he will have again now.”
Axelrod: I “regret” participating
David Axelrod, who I should note is a CNN political analyst, was one of the Democrats who participated in Halperin’s book. On Sunday evening he tweeted out a short statement. “To those who have asked, I have known Mark Halperin as a reporter for 25 years. He emailed me three questions about the 2020 race for a book he was writing and I replied in a few sentences, without giving enough thought to how my participation would be used or interpreted,” Axelrod explained. “By answering Halperin’s questions, I did not in any way mean to excuse his past, egregious behavior and, in retrospect, I regret responding at all.”
Other Democrats respond
I also reached out to several others who Politico reported had participated in Halperin’s book. One of them was James Carville. I asked Carville what he would tell Halperin’s accusers who have expressed disappointment and outrage that so many top Democrats were willing to talk with someone accused of such serious allegations.
In a phone call, Carville answered, “I know he’s been accused by a lot of people and lost his job. The guy called me and asked me to speak to him on a topic that I obviously care about. And I spoke to him.”
When I emailed Donna Brazile, I received a reply back from her which said, “I’m not the author. Ask Mark why he chose us.”
Anita Dunn’s firm does work for Time’s Up
When I read the list of Democrats who had participated in Halperin’s book, one name stood out: Anita Dunn. Dunn is managing director at SKDKnickerbocker, a high-powered public relations firm that does work withTime’s Up. The group formed last year and is working to stop harassment in the workplace.
I reached out to Dunn multiple times on Sunday. She did not respond to texts or phone calls. Finally, a spokesperson for SKDKnickebocker told me, “Anita cares about beating Donald Trump, that is the only reason she participated.”
Will he be on any network?
I checked in with the networks to see if Halperin would be invited on air to promote his book. A spokesperson for ABC News, where Halperin was accused of the sexual misconduct during his time as political director, told me he would not be welcomed on air.
A spokesperson for NBC and MSNBC, where Halperin was a political analyst and regular “Morning Joe” panelist, told me he wouldn’t be on air to promote his book. And spokespeople for CNN and CBS also said Halperin won’t be on their networks.
I checked in with Fox News multiple times on Sunday, but didn’t hear back…
FOR THE RECORD
– New Orleans is mourning the death of WVUE anchor Nancy Parker, who died Friday while shooting a story in a stunt plane that crashed in a field. Parker was a 30-year veteran of television journalism. The WVUE website is full of tributes and remembrances… (WVUE)
– Lester Holt will anchor a special edition of the “NBC Nightly News” on Monday from Tehran. He has an interview with Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif… (Twitter)
– The Hill profiled Chris Wallace: I’ve been called an equal opportunity inquisitor, and I take that very seriously,” Wallace told the outlet… (The Hill)
– Meanwhile… Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher has written an “open letter” to Chris Wallace and Shepard Smith, urging them to “quit Tucker Carlson’s Fox News now…” (Mediaite)
– “A Tabloid Legend on Jeffrey Epstein’s Death…” (WSJ)
Trump lashes out at Fox over latest poll
Trump took another swipe at Fox News on Sunday after receiving a question about the network’s new poll that has him losing in head-to-head matchups to several Democrats. “Fox has changed, and my worst polls have always been from Fox,” Trump said. “There’s something going on at Fox. I’ll tell you right now. And I’m not happy with it.” Trump then praised his favorite opinion hosts on the network.
I checked in with Fox to see if the network had any comment on Trump’s jab. I didn’t hear back. But CNN’s Harry Enten, who knows all things polls, told Ana Cabrera that he personally knows the Fox pollsters, calling them “genuine professionals.” Enten added that Fox’s polling is “consistently quite accurate.”
>> Of note: This is all predictable behavior from Trump. He regularly props up his allies at Fox, while zinging those on the network who critically report on him. He’s been doing this for years…
…and slams NYT with untruth
Another news outlet that drew the president’s ire over the weekend was NYT. On Sunday evening, he continued his assault, ludicrously claiming that the paper “will be out of business soon after” he leaves office. Peter Baker, NYT’s chief White House correspondent, offered up a “fact check” of Trump’s tweet: “Revenues up, subscriptions at a record high, profits at $37.9 million in the second quarter….”