“Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski upset women who accused Mark Halperin of sexual harassment when she reported on air Friday that she had tried to arrange a meeting so the now-disgraced political analyst could apologize.
Brzezinski said Halperin, who was fired in October after being accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, was "more than willing to meet with his accusers and apologize with them face-to-face."
The MSNBC star said she “actually tried to offer him to them” but the women “don't want to talk to him.”
Ten of Halperin’s accusers including Emily Miller, katie Glenn, Dianna May, Ella Spektor McManus and Lara Setrakian sent a letter to MSNBC following Brzezinski’s comments. The letter, signed by “Ten victims of Mark Halperin,” was posted on Facebook and states that Brzezinski was “inappropriate” for suggesting such a meeting and that she has a conflict of interest because of her “personal friendship” with Halperin.
“Sexual harassment and assault is illegal in the workplace, and represents a violation of the policies and standards of NBC News," the letter said. "It is an unethical and harmful request to ask that sexual assault victims confront their accusers in person and, in particular, on live TV.”
The letter goes on to ask that Brzezinski to practice “higher standards of editorial judgment, compassion and human decency.”
Brzezinski issued a statement late Friday:
"We have been trying our best on Morning Joe to have an honest conversation about sexual harassment and sexual assault. The issue has hit close to home given that Mark Halperin was on our show. I have spent a lot of time talking to some of his accusers and to Mark himself. Often I bring up the issue on our show because I think it would be less than genuine to talk about the growing number of cases without recognizing that a former member of our team acted very badly.
"In our discussion about sexual harassment this morning, I said some things that hurt people. In the case of Mark, my goal today was to start a conversation about hearing from the men whenever we can, but I realize that it is not my place. It isn’t my call to make, and for that I am truly sorry. As a victim of sexual assault, I understand that each individual's case is different. This is up to the victims, some of whom I've been in contact with. My hope is for all of us to come together to support the brave women who speak out and help make workplaces safer as we continue this difficult conversation in the months and years ahead.”
Back in October, Halperin was fired by NBC, MSNBC and HBO amid multiple misconduct accusations. NBC News Chairman Andy Lack was quick to separate himself from Halperin, as the accusations arose from Halperin’s time at ABC, as opposed to NBC.
Lack has been significantly less transparent when it comes to sexual misconduct problems within his own company. A former anchor at NBC News recently told Fox News she is in contact with “multiple women” who are frustrated that Lack and his top deputy, Noah Oppenheim, refuse to hire an outside investigator to review a culture of sexual misconduct.
The former anchor, who has so far asked not to be identified, said numerous women began contacting each other when now-disgraced “Today” star Matt Lauer was fired over inappropriate sexual behavior last month.
The group of former and current NBC News employees has stayed in touch and wants “to share their stories of when they were harassed, groped or outright assaulted at NBC News,” said the former employee, who added that many of the women haven’t come forward for fear of retribution.
Beyond the firings of Lauer and Halperin, MSNBC recently admitted that star Chris Matthews settled in 1999 with a former producer who accused him of sexual harassment, and the network suspended “Morning Joe” contributors Glenn Thrush and Harold Ford Jr., after they were accused of harassment by women.
Lack and Oppenheim have come under increasing fire for sitting on two explosive sex harassment stories: Ronan Farrow’s investigation of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein this past fall, and the “Access Hollywood” tape of Donald Trump just over a year ago. Both stories were ultimately aired through other premier news organizations.