The Daily Beast’s Maxwell Tani reports that Mark Halperin made vague threats against MSNBC chief Phil Griffin because Griffin wasn’t interested in abetting Halperin’s comeback. There’s only one rational response to this. Bravo, Phil Griffin.
Sometimes cancel culture cancels the right person, and nowhere is this statement truer than in the case of the most mediocre white man in the history of mediocre white men, Mark Halperin. Halperin was a sort of early 2000s Brian Stelter without the charm. Then with ABC, he started something called the Note, which was a highly influential insider newsletter. He had a bunch of successes—was the head of politics at ABC news, also wrote a few bestselling books, and was a pundit on Morning Joe, and helped start Showtime’s excellent show The Circus.
He loved to press his erect penis against women’s shoulders. He sometimes threatened retribution when they wouldn’t sleep with him. He often kissed women against their will. He was the guy young women warned one another about. He was the reason that #metoo was created in the first place.
Halperin wasn’t some guy who got drunk and hit on someone he wasn’t supposed to—he was a serial sexual harasser. He was a powerful man trying to use his power to get sex and who, when rebuked, threatened retribution—the very definition of sexual harassment.
“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,” said one victim. “I went up to have a soda and talk and—and he just kissed me and grabbed my boobs,” said another. “He started lunging at me and I had nowhere to go. I told him something like, ‘Don’t do that,’” said a third. And there are more stories, all of them from young women being sexually harassed by an incubus who sounds like a mini pundit-sized Donald Trump.
And so, Halperin was canceled, and rightly so. He was fired from his cushy gigs, his book was canceled, he was taken off the circus. But hell hath no fury like a mediocre white man held responsible for his actions, and in August, we learned that none other than Judith “If I did it” Regan had given him another chance with the publication of How to Beat Trump, for which many prominent Democratic insiders gave him interviews, assisting in his rehabilitation. And then there were whispers that Halperin wanted to go back to Morning Joe—after all, it had been a whole 20 months.
Hadn’t he been held responsible enough? Wasn’t it time for him to get to do whatever he wanted again?
Well, turns out cancel culture isn’t a little hiatus culture. The world didn’t want Halperin back, but Halperin was pretty sure that the world was wrong, so sure that Halperin called up his former boss MSNBC head Griffin to yell at him because he wanted his old job back. As Tani writes, Halperin’s former pals Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski sought to collaborate with him on an online-only MSNBC broadcast analyzing the 2018 midterm elections, but the entire plan was scuttled. The failed scheme caused consternation within the building—“Everybody was going ‘WTF!,’” one MSNBC insider told The Daily Beast—and ultimately led to Halperin’s hostile call with Griffin.
All this would be one thing if Halperin were a brilliant pundit whose insights were so invaluable that the rest of simply could not get by without them. But, um, they’re, how do I put this tactfully… hot garbage. Halperin is quite literally how we got Trump. Two weeks before the 2016 election, The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote a column that included this little soul-crushing nugget: “In March, Halperin declared on Morning Joe that Trump is ‘one of the two most talented presidential candidates any of us have covered.’” Wow. Lemme guess—was the other Sarah Palin?
That January, also on Morning Joe, he said Trump’s attacks on the Clintons were “politically brilliant.” And “Halperin asserted that “it’s not racial” for Trump to attempt to disqualify an Indiana-born federal judge as a “Mexican” because of his ancestry. His reason: “Mexico isn’t a race.” Halperin also both-sided Trump’s “Russia if you’re listening” comment. And when Trump was widely panned for calling on Russia to find Clinton’s missing emails, Halperin said, “There is a lot of fault on both sides.”
Yes, it turns out that Halperin is not only a creepy sexual harasser; he’s also a garbage pundit who helped us get the president who made Nixon look like Lincoln.
We hear a lot of complaints on the right about the victims of #metoo, the white men who are swept up in the fervor and have their whole lives ruined because they can’t keep it in their pants. And maybe there were cases where we rushed to judgment—maybe.
But some people actually really do deserve to be canceled, and Halperin is the definition of what #metoo was created to stop. Sometimes—not all the time, but sometimes—bad men are actually held accountable for their actions. On rare occasions like this we should celebrate our moral progress, we should be thrilled that the world is slowly, finally, changing. We should not waste time trying to figure out how to forgive a bad man for doing bad things.