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MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski issued a formal apology for comments she made on Morning Joe regarding the women who accused political analyst Mark Halperin of sexual harassment and assault.
“We have been trying our best on Morning Joe to have an honest conversation about sexual harassment and sexual assault,” Brzezinski said in a statement obtained by EW. “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,” she continued. “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.”
On Friday, Brzezinski discussed the overwhelming amount of sexual harassment and assault claims made against men in positions of power. She said Halperin, a friend of hers, “is more than willing to meet with his accusers and apologize [to] them face-to-face.”
“I’ve actually tried to offer him to them,” Brzezinski added. “They don’t want to talk to him.”
The Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi tweeted a letter signed by 10 of Halperin’s accusers in response. “Sexual harassment and assault is illegal in the workplace, and represents a violation of the policies and standards of NBC News,” the letter read in part. “It is an unethical and harmful request to ask that sexual assault victims confront their accusers in person and, in particular, on live TV.”
Read it in full below.
Emily Miller, who claimed that Halperin once “attacked” her, told CNN Brzezinski’s comments made her “so upset” that she was “shaking.”
“I can’t retraumatize myself to be in the same room with him to please Mika Brzezinski and her rich and famous friends,” Miller said. “If Halperin genuinely wanted to apologize, he could send a letter or put it in public domain. Instead he has on the record denied my accusations which is extremely painful as a victim to be denied the truth. It is disgusting and unethical of Mika to use the power of her show to shame me, a sexual assault victim, into meeting with the man who did that to me.”
In a story published by CNN in October, five women accused Halperin of varying degrees of sexual harassment. Multiple other women came forward in the aftermath with similar claims, including that he allegedly masturbated in front of one of them and physically threw another one against a wall.
Halperin denied claims that he masturbated in front of anyone, as well as physically or verbally threatening anyone. Though, he issued a lengthy apology for what he described as his own “aggressive and crude” behavior.