I was one of the five anonymous women who shared with CNN strikingly consistent accounts of sexual harassment by political journalist Mark Halperin while he was at ABC News. My story, which was published Thursday by CNN, was excruciating to tell. To do so I had to overcome the pleas of my family and the whispers of fear in my own mind.
But I feel compelled to come forward, because we need to understand what went wrong and what it says about television journalism. We can’t expect the culture of our newsrooms to get better if we’re not honest about what’s happening. We can’t pretend these incidents are isolated to a few salacious cases at Fox News or call out other flawed industries and institutions with self-righteous indignation. We have to clean our own house.
This isn’t a witch hunt, targeting Halperin for all the sins of our industry. I was personally relieved to get the quick, though qualified, apology that Halperin provided to CNN — perversely, it was more than I was expecting. He said he regretted making “inappropriate” advances to colleagues — some of them junior to him — though, frustratingly, he denied our accounts of unwelcome physical contact. (When contacted for comment on this op-ed, a representative repeated his acknowledgment to CNN that his “behavior was inappropriate.”) Halperin needs to take responsibility for his actions, and I would like to know how he plans to make things right. But let’s not forget that the problems we face are bigger than him.