Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski on Friday chastised the women who accused journalist Mark Halperin of sexual misconduct for not wanting to meet face-to-face with her now-disgraced friend to hear him apologize.
Now that the dust is settling on a plethora of powerful men being toppled by sexual-misconduct allegations—ranging from unwanted advances to groping to sexual assault—Brzezinski and her MSNBC panel set out Friday to note the imbalance in punishment men have faced as part of the #MeToo movement, regardless of the severity of their behavior.
The Beltway-centric gabfest discussed how Al Franken, long revered as a warrior for women’s causes, was pushed out of the Senate for allegedly groping several women, while accused sexual predator Roy Moore was nearly elected to serve in it.
While calling all of the above behavior “abhorrent,” Brzezinski’s co-host and fiancé Joe Scarborough asserted: “But we have a criminal-law system that differentiates between murder and jaywalking. We need to do that here, too.”
And that started Brzezinski off on a shocking rebuke of the victims of former NBC reporter and longtime Morning Joe panelist Halperin.
“We also have some men who are willing to face the music, who are willing to face the facts, who are willing to admit to their actions 10, 20 years ago, even five years ago,” she began. “Mark Halperin is more than willing to meet with his accusers and apologize with them face-to-face. I’ve actually tried to offer him to them. They don’t want to talk to him. They don’t want to talk to him.”
She then suggested those victims are caught up in “some hypocrisies here.”
Brzezinski continued: “When things happen and men actually want to validate that truth, that’s important that we actually allow that, if we want to grow as a society and learn from each other. If we just want to strike people down for political motivation or for anger, we’re not going to get anywhere. And I know I just said something incredibly—what’s the word—explosive.”
“Truthful?” Scarborough interjected. “Truthful.”
His co-host continued: “But I have been poring through these cases; they’re all different. They all involve people who have had terrible experiences in some cases, and some of them involve men who have sought counseling and who want to apologize, who may not ever come back to their careers in full form. But the question is: Should they be allowed to apologize? Should they show that they know that things have changed, that perhaps maybe they want to actually come forward and talk about this? I’m not sure what we’re doing here, I really don’t know.”
Halperin was ousted in late October from NBC after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct, including allegedly pressing an erection—fully clothed—against them, or forcibly kissing them, or groping their breasts.
Halperin confirmed that he “did pursue relationships” with female colleagues, “including some junior to me,” and claimed to have learned from his public shaming: “I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize.”
After the first spate of allegations emerged against the Game Change author, his friend Brzezinski took heat for issuing a terse on-air statement in which she made note that the claims were from “over a decade ago” and came from “unnamed sources.” The next day, however, she publicly agreed with NBC’s decision to remove Halperin from the network, but added that “nothing has been proven or adjudicated here.”
This isn’t the first time Morning Joe has practically pleaded with the public to give a “friend of the show” a slight pass where they otherwise might not.
In the summer 2015, back when the MSNBC morning show was infamous for seemingly running cover for their then-friend and frequent guest Donald Trump (oh, how times change), the show went after The Daily Beast reporter Tim Mak for a story on how Ivana Trump once used the word “rape” to describe a sexual encounter with her ex-husband-turned-president.
“Let me know when you’re actually going to uncover something new,” Brzezinski said to Mak, on-air, moments before Scarborough cut the interview off entirely.