Disgraced Pundit Mark Halperin’s Accusers Call New Book Deal a ‘Slap in the Face’

By Justin Baragona Audrey.McNamara@thedailybeast.com (Audrey McNamara) Maxwell.Tani@thedailybeast.com (Maxwell Tani)
Paul Morigi/Getty

Disgraced political pundit and author Mark Halperin has recently signed a deal to publish a book on Trump-era political strategy, his first major project since his career derailed in October 2017 amid multiple accusations of sexual misconduct and harassment.

As first reported by Politico Playbook, the Game Change author inked a deal with Regan Arts to publish How to Beat Trump: America’s Top Political Strategists on What It Will Take. The book, which is scheduled to come out in November, will focus on interviews with dozens of Democratic political strategists, including Donna Brazile, David Axelrod, Amanda Renteria, James Carville, Jennifer Granholm, and Kathleen Sebelius.

Judith Regan, the head of Regan Arts, is scheduled to release the following statement upon the announcement of the book’s upcoming release, according 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.”

The news came as a shock to accusers, including one who described the development as a “slap in the face to all the women that he has victimized.”

‘What He Did Was Creepy. It Was Bad, Truly Bad’: The Rise and Fall of Mark Halperin

Reached by phone, Eleanor McManus, cofounder of Trident DMG, who came forward with her own story about Halperin in 2017, said the book deal comes before an apology to his alleged victims.

“He leveraged his position as a prominent journalist to prey on women. He has yet to take responsibility for his actions by apologizing to his victims or demonstrating genuine contrition,” McManus said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “Giving him a book once again puts him in a position of authority and that is a slap in the face to all the women that he has victimized.”

As for the more than 75 Democratic strategists Halperin reportedly spoke with to write the book (many of whom have not responded to The Daily Beast’s request for comment), their contribution to his resurgence has been duly noted by those in the media industry.

Brazile, a veteran Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor, told The Daily Beast that her decision to speak with Halperin has “disappointed” friends but that she felt her voice on the book’s subject was needed.

“Much has been said or written about Mark Halperin’s failures. We have condemned him, disgraced him and shoved him away. We are still angry at him and will never cease to admonish him,” Brazile said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “After a lot of emails, tough times for sure, I wanted to go on the record with my answers about how to defeat Trump. Many of my friends today are disappointed that I answered Mark’s call, but I did so after he understood where I was coming from.”

Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Obama, addressed the backlash in a tweet Sunday evening, writing that he had not given enough thought on how his “participation would be used or interpreted.” Reiterating Brazile’s sentiments, he added: “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.”

One America News Network correspondent Emily Miller, one of the numerous female journalists to have accused Halperin of sexual harassment, thanked Axelrod for apologizing but echoed other victims’ distress over learning about the book this late in the game. “Thank you for saying you regret it,” Miller wrote. “I wish someone had told us - the victims - this was happening so we could at least prepare emotionally.” She then tagged the Press Forward foundation, a non-profit established to create safer workplaces in media by many of Halperin’s accusers.

“Should Mark Halperin, along with others whose detrimental behavior was credibly exposed through the hard work of journalists, be allowed back in the arena without demonstrating the standards we expect of our kids?” Press Forward said in a statement “There can be no talk of redemption without even a semblance of atonement.”

Renteria, formerly the national political director for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election, similarly told the The Daily Beast that her involvement in Halperin’s book should not indicate his absolution. “As my record shows, I have no sympathy for people with a history of sexual harassment in the workplace and I’m not interested in rehabilitating anyone’s career,” Renteria said. “At the same time, women and people of color are worse off when our voices and experiences are left out of campaign histories like this.”

Another former Clinton senior adviser who spoke to Halperin, Adrienne Elrod, told The Daily Beast that her “singular professional focus is defeating Donald Trump in 2020” and said she has spoken to “a number of people” about the 2016 election’s relevance to winning back the White House. But added, “if I had to do it again I would have been more thoughtful and respectful to the women who have been affected.”

Ben LaBolt, a spokesperson in the Obama administration and political strategist, also told The Daily Beast that his participation was not intended to help Halperin personally. “I treated it as a normal reporter call but I should have revisited the accusations against him before taking the call,” LaBolt said. “Didn’t mean to appear to excuse his past behavior or be part of a PR campaign.”

Mark Halperin Enlists Pals Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, and Michael Smerconish to Rehab His Career After Sexual Misconduct Scandal

The Halperin book is far from the first time Regan has courted controversy. Back in 2006, she infamously agreed to publish O.J. Simpson’s sort-of tell-all on the murders of his ex-wife and her friend, If I Did It. Following a firestorm of outrage, both the book and a Fox TV special were canceled, and she was eventually fired by News Corporation. (Regan would later receive a reported $10 million settlement after she sued News Corp. for defamation.)

Regan and Regan Arts did not immediately respond to a call and email for comment.

Mark Halperin Comes Out of #MeToo Hiding, Weighs In on Biden’s Creepy Touching

Following the wave of allegations that Halperin had groped several female colleagues and made unwanted sexual advances toward them, he found himself dropped from the numerous projects he was working on at the time. He was fired from Showtime’s The Circus, a planned book with longtime partner John Heilemann was nixed, and HBO canceled an upcoming series based on that canceled book.

Over the past few months, however, Halperin has reemerged in an attempt to jumpstart his once lucrative career—all with the help of some friends in the media. While starting up a new political newsletter, Halperin has made several appearances on Michael Smerconish’s SiriusXM radio show.

On top of that, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski have been offering Halperin moral support behind the scenes and even attempted to collaborate with Halperin on an online-only program focusing on the 2018 midterms before that was scrapped by the network. 

Prior to the accusations coming to light and his dismissal from NBC News as a political analyst, Halperin was a fixture on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. The alleged sexual misconduct took place during his time at ABC News.

Mark Halperin Enlists Pals Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, and Michael Smerconish to Rehab His Career After Sexual Misconduct Scandal

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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