I was actually watching Morning Joe this week when co-host Mika Brzezinski launched into one of the stranger moments of the entire #MeToo discussion. In some ways, I was truly tending to sympathize with the point Mika seemed to be trying to make. She was talking about the dangers of a rush to judgment, due process and a few other aspects of this debate. Unfortunately, any goodwill Brzezinski might have generated was immediately flushed away when she decided to focus the conversation on the situation facing her friend and frequent show contributor, Mark Halperin. Allahpundit was quick to point out just how tone-deaf her approach to “settling” the issue was, particularly when she pointed out that her attempts at a mafia-style “sit down” between Halperin and his accusers didn’t seem to be of interest to the women he admittedly abused. (Emphasis in original)
But now here she is going to bat for Halperin, a longtime contributor to MJ and a personal friend, on grounds that his victims aren’t being compassionate enough towards him. He’s ready to apologize, says Mika! I’ve tried to make it happen but these damned women won’t hear the poor guy out! Do note: Some of the allegations against Halperin, including the masturbation one I mentioned above, involve incidents that happened *20 years ago*. He had 20 years in some cases to seek these women out and apologize if he was sincerely sorry. Only now, though, with his career in ruins, is there apparently an effort to do so. If you were someone who’d been victimized by Halperin, would you want to graciously sit through an opportunistic “sorry I got caught” quasi-apology now that he’s desperate for good PR to get his job back? Why should you do him a favor?
It didn’t take long for Mika’s efforts at hosting some peace talks to blow up in her face. By the end of the day, the complaints she received, presumably including blowback from some of the actual victims, led her to recant, retract and retreat. (The Hill)
“In our discussion about sexual harassment this morning, I said some things that hurt people,” Brzezinski said in a statement, posted online by CNN’s Oliver Darcy. “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 is not my place.”
“It isn’t my call to make, and for that I am truly sorry,” she added. “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.”
Again, it’s completely credible for the media to “hear from the men” in some cases, particularly when they are absolutely denying the claims and may have some sort of evidence of their innocence to offer regarding the woman. Then again, in Halperin’s case we’re talking about nearly one dozen women with remarkably similar, contemporaneous stories, so perhaps he wasn’t the best one to start with. Also, if anyone is going to enter into the discussion as some sort of neutral arbitrator, you’d probably want that person to actually be neutral, not a long-time friend and colleague on the set of your show.
So if the accused men are declaring their innocence and looking for their day in court, even if it’s The Court of Public Opinion, perhaps we should be offering that opportunity. But for the ones who have already apologized (even partially), gone into some sort of “treatment program” or otherwise signaled that there was fire under all the smoke, what is there to be gained by asking the woman to go sit in front of the man who has already humiliated and abused them? I think Allahpundit was spot on in pointing out that there’s no value add for the women here. It’s just an exercise to allow the man to put on a public show of contrition and start setting the stage for some sort of redemption story. Trying to facilitate such a meeting between Halperin and his accusers wasn’t just a case of having the wrong person brokering the deal. The deal itself was offensive to the victims.
If Morning Joe really wants to pursue this angle, why not have Ryan Seacrest on the show? That’s a case of a single accuser and a complete denial, along with having expressed a willingness to cooperate with any investigation. See if he can provide a list of names of other people who worked with him at the time who are willing to speak to his personality and work ethics while also reaching out to the victim and seeking others who may claim to have had similar encounters. Assuming Mika and Joe aren’t personal friends of Seacrest they could plausibly act as impartial mediators.