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Mark Halperin attempts comeback after #MeToo accusations with Trump book

Mark Halperin attempts comeback after #MeToo accusations with Trump book

Mark Halperin, one of the most high-profile media figures to fall over sexual misconduct allegations made in the #MeToo era, is making an attempted comeback with a new book deal expected to be announced on Monday.

The revelation of Halperin’s new book, How to Beat Trump: America’s Top Political Strategists on What It Will Take, first reported by Politico, has put the pundit back under the spotlight and reignited the anger of critics including some of his original female detractors. It has also put the campaign experts and analysts who cooperated with him over his book into the line of fire.

It comes two years after Halperin’s dramatic fall, when he was accused by at least a dozen women at ABC News of he sexually harassing them in the early 2000s, when he was the network’s political director.

The accusations, for which he apologized, led to him losing prominent TV roles and also led to HBO cancelling plans for a serialization of a follow-up to his bestselling book on the 2008 presidential election, Game Change, based on 2016.

In recent months Halperin has been nudging himself back into the world of political punditry, launching a current affairs email service, Wide World of News, and putting himself forward for interviews on Sirius XM.

But releasing a new book on a subject as central as how to defeat Trump is a comeback effort on a different level – an audacious move that has not been emulated by other high-profile media men whose careers collapsed in the wake of #MeToo, such as Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose or Bill O’Reilly.

The news was greeted with indignation by some of Halperin’s accusers. Emily Miller, who accused him of harassing her at ABC News, lamented on Twitter: “I wish someone had told us – the victims – this was happening so we could at least prepare emotionally.”

Dianna Goldberg May, who charged the then ABC News political director with forcing her to sit on his lap in 1994 during a meeting when she was a researcher on the network, told the Washington Post: “Until Mark demonstrates any understanding of how destructive his behaviours were to so many, he doesn’t deserve another platform.”

She also had harsh words for the many top Democrats who spoke to Halperin for his new book. According to Politico the list runs to 75 senior figures and includes stellar consultants such as David Axelrod, Donna Brazile, James Carville and Anita Dunn.

Axelrod, chief strategist for both Barack Obama’s presidential victories, was contrite. He said he had answered a few of Halperin’s questions about the 2020 race by email, adding: “I regret responding at all.”

Brazile, Al Gore’s campaign manager in 2000, was more forthright. She told CNN’s Oliver Darcy: “I’m not the author. Ask Mark why he chose us.”

It may not be coincidental that Halperin’s publisher is no stranger to controversy herself. Judith Regan was the mastermind behind If I Did It – the ill-fated idea of getting OJ Simpson to hypothetically act out the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman.

In a statement to Politico, Regan sought to justify her decision to go with Halperin’s book as an act of moral courage.

“I do not in any way, shape or form condone any harm done by one human being to another. I have also lived long enough to believe in the power of forgiveness, second chances, and offering a human being a path to redemption,” she said.