“Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski opened up Friday morning about the allegations facing former panelist Mark Halperin, who is in hot water after upwards of a dozen women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment or assault in just the last two days.
The allegations against Halperin came in waves: after CNN broke a story detailing five women who accused Halperin of sexual assault while he held a powerful position at ABC News, three more women came forward the next day, while The Washington Post tracked down nine other women who recalled similar incidents.
Brzezinski noted that while she and co-host Joe Scarborough have a personal relationship with Halperin, his conduct remains unacceptable and NBC was right to terminate him.
“I’ll speak for both Joe and myself here – our hearts break for Mark and his family, because he is our friend,” she said. “But we fully support NBC’s decision here. We want to know more about these disturbing allegations. We want to hear the stories. We need to know what happened. And we are not going to avoid the story just because he’s our friend. We’re going to cover it, and we’re going to pray for everybody involved.”
She went on to reference “more disturbing reports regarding Mark Halperin’s treatment of younger female co-workers” and acknowledged that there might be a “possible pattern of unacceptable conduct.”
“Mark and Karen [Avrich, Halperin’s girlfriend] have been part of ‘Morning Joe’s’ extended family for years. They’re our friends. And we believe it’s important to stand with our friends, through even the most difficult of times,” she said. “But it’s even more important to demand the truth even when the facts appear to be extremely painful.”
The allegations against Halperin describe a slew of twisted behavior, including forcing women to sit on his lap while he had an erection, “placing his erect penis” against women, trying to kiss women without their consent, and openly fondling their breasts.
Some outlets have even reported that Halperin’s pervy proclivities were an “open secret” in the worlds of politics and media for many years, with Vox reporter Liz Plank going so far as to paint Halperin as “the Harvey Weinstein of media.”