October 27, 2017

"I didn’t know what to do. He was important. He wasn’t my superior, but he was certainly in a superior position to mine."

"I didn’t say anything. I didn’t know how to at the time. I knew it was wrong. It was gross. He’s gross. He’s gross."

Said Dianna Goldberg, who "was a young researcher at ABC News in 1994 when she asked a colleague, Mark Halperin, for some information about a story. He readily agreed to help her and asked her to come to his office. Close the door, he said when she arrived. Come over here, he said, seated at his desk. Sit down and I’ll give you the information, he said. He motioned to his lap.... She reluctantly agreed and sat down briefly. Halperin, she recalled on Wednesday, had an erection. The same routine happened on three or four other occasions, she said. Each instance left her confused, shaken and ashamed." (WaPo.)

She was, as she tells of it now, "confused, shaken and ashamed."

How do you think he felt? Do you think he imagined he was instigating a playful, fun relationship? Do you think he got off on her youthful confusion and his superiority and ability to command lap-sitting? Do you think he was a sadistic jerk?

I'm wondering how many men* there are out there — in many different lines of work — who know that this could happen to them too, who are going back over all their workplace encounters, thinking about who might decide to go public or — through a lawyer — threaten to go public, with a vocalization — at long last — of her** experience, long ago. Who out there could throw your life into chaos and how much money do you have to purchase nondisclosure agreements?

______________________

* We'll get to the women later.

** Or his.

82 comments:

tim in vermont said...

Part of the intoxicating sense of entitlement is that you begin to believe that others share the sense that you are special and deserve your good fortune and share in your joy for yourself. Don't ask me how I know this, but it's a trap for the fortunate.

rhhardin said...

Poor baby. Just leave and go to his boss.

I've walked out on bosses just for talking like an idiot.

tim in vermont said...

Basically you can begin to believe that the suckups are sincere.

David Begley said...

“Halperin resides in New York City with his girlfriend, Karen Avrich, co-author of Sasha and Emma with her late father and historian Paul Avrich.”

For now.

retail lawyer said...

"How do you think he felt?"

I can only imagine. I'm a benighted cis hetero guy, and I can only imagine awkwardness, at best. This would not be fun for me.

MadisonMan said...

Halperin sounds like an A-1 jerk.

IME people who are jerks aren't the ones you go to for help.

Maybe I'm just incredibly lucky in my professional life. I don't think I'm that expert at reading people, yet I've never found myself in a place such as Ms. Goldberg found herself in.

I'm struck by 'The Same Routine happened on three or four occasions'. Can people learn from the past?

rhhardin said...

He thinks he's god's gift to women, is all.

I don't know about the erection thing. Maybe he'd had it for over four hours and needed medical attention.

Kevin said...

“Halperin resides in New York City with his girlfriend, Karen Avrich, co-author of Sasha and Emma with her late father and historian Paul Avrich.”

For now.


She probably can't believe he tried the old "sit on my lap and notice my erection" routine with anyone else.

tim in vermont said...

John Denver used to say there were 'gods' among men and he was one of them, though he evidently couldn't fly.

Listen to the lyrics of "life's been good to me so far."

Nurse Rooke said...

I'm just bemused by the behavior of the women in stories like this.

I'm female, in my 50s. I've worked at law firms and small cultural magazines, but I've spent most of life in academia. I was brought up in a very conventional (probably now old-fashioned) bourgeois way, to be polite to everybody. I cannot imagine a situation in which I would ever accept an invitation to sit on a colleague's lap! Polite doesn't mean pushover. Mask your shock, laugh, say "Don't be ridiculous" and never shut the door in a room with him again.

Note: If this weren't an anonymous place, I almost certainly wouldn't be confessing my confusion.

rhhardin said...

Penis horror is a pretend woman thing, part of the natural actress in women. It's a choice. Women can be ridiculed out of it.

Nurse Rooke said...

I'm just bemused by the behavior of the women in stories like this.

I'm female, in my 50s. I've worked at law firms and small cultural magazines, but I've spent most of life in academia. I was brought up in a very conventional (probably now old-fashioned) bourgeois way, to be polite to everybody. I cannot imagine a situation in which I would ever accept an invitation to sit on a colleague's lap! Polite doesn't mean pushover. Mask your shock, laugh, say "Don't be ridiculous" and never shut the door in a room with him again.

Note: If this weren't an anonymous place, I almost certainly wouldn't be confessing my confusion.

tim in vermont said...

Not written by John Denver, just someone who has had nothing but good fortune.

Matthew Sablan said...

You know. If someone degraded me like that, I wouldn't go back to them. But, people do. I wonder what it is about people that makes them accept being abused, especially in this manner. Halperin sounds like an asshole.

traditionalguy said...

The Media and Entertainment businesses guys still act like all of the sexy young stuff being hired are offering to play to get to stay.

And DC Politics is just another media and entertainment business run by the ugly men.

And then there were the Kennedys combining it all into one pleasure power thing...one which Bill Clinton saw as his ideal.

tim in vermont said...

I am not trying to defend him, just to put myself in his shoes, but life sure would be easier for men if women were consistent, but since they are not, strict protocols should be maintained in the workplace to deal with it.

Ralph L said...

I can't believe this wasn't known by half the office building in a week and eventually gotten up to management. Or maybe it was, and they did nothing.

We all knew about the VP boinking the receptionist pretty quickly.

tim in vermont said...

Still, I am enjoying this.

etbass said...

I make no judgment excusing such behavior at all. But in 38 years employment in a management capacity of one of the world's largest corporations, I never witnessed or even heard of any behavior remotely close to what is described here.

My son in his mid 30's was captured with Mad Men but I told him the theme of that TV series was NOT typical of life in the corporation in the sixties.

None of that suggests we pass over this eruption of news of perversion amongst the media elite; it just tries to put it all in perspective.

Ann Althouse said...

"I cannot imagine a situation in which I would ever accept an invitation to sit on a colleague's lap!"

I sure can! It would be the situation where he's very attractive and you think you can have a lot of fun with him... with or without career benefits. You become the special transgressive kids among the stiffs in the workplace, which becomes a newly exciting place for you, full of sexual potential. This is the story in endless works of fiction.

whitney said...

Viscerally I'm completely disgusted. I wouldn't know what I would do that situation either as a young woman. His motivation looks like power. Erotic pleasure can come from many sources

MikeR said...

As with nearly every one of these stories, the details don't sound real. Not one of many ladies has said, Well, if I wanted to have a career I didn't have too much choice, so I went ahead and had sex with him. Instead we get this weird dichotomy of the ones who were actually raped, and the ones who stopped things short and felt conflicted afterwards. Leads to a weird picture of the men as well (in addition to their being evil scum).
I can't blame the ladies, but what's going to happen if any of these cases goes to court and they have to swear?
Marilyn Monroe was a lot simpler. The quote attributed to her about her early days in Hollywood: "I spent a lot of time on my knees."

Pettifogger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pettifogger said...

Kevin said: "She probably can't believe he tried the old "sit on my lap and notice my erection" routine with anyone else."

That's what bothers me about the story. The first time she went into his office, she could reasonably expect legitimate help--until he asked her to sit in his lap. What did she expect on subsequent occasions?

Trite old sayings can embody truth: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Pettifogger said...

But my comment above is not intended to diminish the point that the guy who did that is a jerk.

Kevin said...

But my comment above is not intended to diminish the point that the guy who did that is a jerk.

It was a comment on our times that you felt you had to add that.

Bill Crawford said...

I wonder if the assistance he gave her for work made her project a roaring success and so she went back for more. Or, he was MARK HALPRIN after all!!! Maybe something would come of her sitting on his lap - invites to the best parties, fancy dinners, marriage, children, vacay on Martha's Vineyard. The sky's the limit!!

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

She reluctantly agreed and sat down briefly. Halperin, she recalled on Wednesday, had an erection. The same routine happened on three or four other occasions, she said.

She's not a victim. She's a co-conspirator. The victims are the women who refused to sit on his lap while they "worked."

Ralph L said...

I'd like to know how these guys over 30 get nearly instantaneous erections, especially while talking. Maybe they don't require much blood flow.

Curious George said...

"The same routine happened on three or four other occasions, she said."

Reminds me of the bear hunter joke. Halperin is an asshole, and his behavior unacceptable, but four or five times? And each time she felt "confused, shaken and ashamed."

Really, confused?

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

A goose from an elder man in a wheelchair is much worse.

MadisonMan said...

I wonder what it is about people that makes them accept being abused, especially in this manner. Halperin sounds like an asshole.

He also sounds like a good reader/manipulator. Victim gave off a vibe, he noted it, probably groomed his victim and victim was unaware of it. Then she came for help.

Tommy Duncan said...

So are all of these sexual harassment claims tied somehow to the famous GOP War on Women? Was this caused by Romney's binders?

Laslo Spatula said...

"I'm wondering how many men* there are out there — in many different lines of work — who know that this could happen to them too,..."

I first read that as men being asked to sit on a man's lap, too.

No doubt has happened.

I am Laslo.

Matthew Sablan said...

I'm 99% confident this could never happen to me because I don't sexually harass my colleagues.

Otto said...

Who gives a sh*t what what he thinks.

mezzrow said...

Looks like a boxed bonanza for the legal profession. Just what America needs now.

And just in the nick of time.

cubanbob said...

Ralph L said...
I'd like to know how these guys over 30 get nearly instantaneous erections, especially while talking. Maybe they don't require much blood flow."

Now that there is something I want to know.

MadisonMan said...

This is the story in endless works of fiction.

We had a new person start at work today, a young woman from a different Department, according to the email introduction from the Boss.

I went in to ask for some help on a project in which she is expert.

Imagine my surprise to find Pony Tail Swish girl from the Health Club.

She asked me to sit on her lap.

I am not Laslo.

Annie C said...

Beautiful MadisonMan!

DKWalser said...

I do not fear any truthful complaints. I've been in business 30 years and never once have I made a pass at anyone. Nor have I grabbed, patted, or done anything else that properly would be considered inappropriate.

I do fear untruthful complaints and rumors. More than 20 years ago, a subordinate came to my office to discuss her career. It was a personal conversation, so she shut the door as she came in. We talked for over an hour -- with the desk between us at all times. She was upset at some things that had happened in the office, and she cried when discussing them with me. When she left my office, others noticed that we'd been alone behind a closed door for a long time and that her makeup needed repair when she left. Rumors started circulating and HR got involved. The women came to my defense and HR was satisfied. Since then, I've always insisted that my office have a glass panel next to the door so that people outside my office can see in, but cannot hear what's being discussed.

rhhardin said...

Vibes are sometimes a particle and sometimes a wave. The two slit experiment proves the latter.

Peter said...

I wonder how many of these obviously attractive and successful women felt "confused, shaken and ashamed" because of the sleaze factor. A lot of these accounts make the guys sound like semi-pervs. It's not hard to imagine why the women felt so used. Why were these wannabe Casanovas too cheap to invest in some roses and a fancy dinner?

Ralph L said...

The two slit experiment proves the latter
Would you explain that to Titus?

Laslo Spatula said...

Exactly how did she position herself when lowering herself on his lap while he had an erection?

If she just sat straight down on his lap that could hurt the guy.

Unless he has a small cock, maybe.

My guess is she actually sat on his thighs.

Yeah: that's it.

I am Laslo.

Fernandinande said...

Voluntarily sitting on someone's lap is a traumatic experience. I read that somewhere.

DKWalser said...

Another time, about 15 years ago, we had an office meeting in which I made a presentation. Afterwards, a new intern complained to HR about something I said. HR told me of the complaint. I asked what I had said that had offended the intern. The head of HR, who had been in the room, said she didn't know and that the intern wouldn't say. I asked the head of HR if, in her opinion, I had said anything offensive. She said she couldn't think of a single thing. Some of my jokes fell flat, but none were dirty. I'd not used any profanity. Both of us were baffled. Yet, I'd clearly offended this young women and the offense was great enough that she felt obliged to make a formal complaint to HR about a very senior member of the firm.

rhhardin said...

Talk about kettle logic and women will complain to HR.

Ralph L said...

DKWalser said...
Another time,
at band camp, I triggered a ditzy girl by being in the same county with her.

Michael Boulos said...

amazing and interesting post
Very Amazing Quotes

rhhardin said...

People are classified as mammals having laps, getting the chief features in.

Walter S. said...

I don't think anyone could "throw my life into chaos" by true revelations. But if someone misremembered something after twenty years, or made up something, how would I defend myself?

I have learned that my own memory is not very reliable after twenty years, even about very important events. I suppose some people remember things more accurately. Other people think they remember accurately, but don't.

That's why I'm skeptical of charges like this one. Probably most such charges are true. But some aren't, and we need to protect everybody. The answer is that we can accept these charges as evidence of a widespread pattern of harassment that needs to be corrected---but in the case of any particular accused person, we bystanders should disregard charges entirely unless the evidence is compelling.

Martha said...

According to the Daiy Beast, Halperin’s sexcapades were an open secret so why did Mika Brzezinski tolerate Halperin on Morning Joe for years? Why did ABC and Bloomberg tolerate Halperin? Why did Dianna Goldberg return to Halperin’s office 3 or 4 times confused, shaken, and ashamed?

Because Halperin was a valuable commodity.


Daily Beast:
According to numerous sources at NBC, MSNBC, ABC, and Bloomberg—who previously spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely—the private allegations of Halperin’s sexual misconduct were an open secret, particularly in New York City and D.C. political media, for many years.

Angel-Dyne said...

He readily agreed to help her and asked her to come to his office. Close the door, he said when she arrived. Come over here, he said, seated at his desk. Sit down and I’ll give you the information, he said. He motioned to his lap.... She reluctantly agreed and sat down briefly.

Wtf?

Like Nurse Rooke @7:05 says. Sit on his freakin' lap? "Well, um, OK." Were the young women of 1994 really that easy to intimidate? Sit on his freakin' lap well um OK? Again, wtf?

As weird as the alleged behavior of the man is, the trashiness is comprehensible. Trashy people will be with us always. Sleaze-bags gotta sleaze. And, as they say, "sin makes you stupid". A critical level of trashiness in your character is gonna start clouding your capacity for perceiving just how weird and nasty your behavior is. But sit on his freaking lap well um OK? I boggle. One hesitates to imagine just how trashy a "request" would have to be before she would draw the line and cease to "reluctantly agree".

And I wrote the above before I was aware that she "reluctantly agreed" three or four times more.

OK, this #MeToo stuff is starting to look like another edition of "woo hoo! great time to settle some scores under cover of the latest progressive crusade!". I predict that when the knives are sheathed, and the "raising awareness" and "sensitivity training" racket is enjoying a profitable boost in contracts to bedevil ordinary workers, the sleaze-bags will still be sleazin' away in comfort and security.

Laslo Spatula said...

Maybe he just needed another chair in his office.

I am Laslo.

Bob Ellison said...

This...is difficult.

As a guy, I don't want to confess anything. It's yuuuuge, you'll know when I'm aroused.

But let's picture this Halperin wearing suit pants, jacket off, sitting on, what, an office chair, and inviting a lady in what, a pencil skirt maybe...

And he asks her to sit on his lap. And she thinks it's a bad idea, but does it anyway. And she notices through her WiFi bottom that he has an erection.

That was pre-WiFi. Her bottom must have had some kind of FBI sensor that she chose not to mention for 23 years.

And then she did it three or four times more.

No.

Bill Peschel said...

I've been told confidence is power, and I guess that's how it's expressed.

Althouse's reaction -- boy, I wish we were talking in person, because at that point I'd ask "are you serious" and get into a discussion about it -- pushes me closer to the what is now considered misogynistic view that women are weak and can be manipulated.

Then I remembered: At a newspaper, our newly hired managing editor was talking to one of our young reporters. She'd been in the military and they were talking about physical training. He asked her to demonstrate push-ups on the floor of his office, and she readily complied.

Later, he turned out he had been sexually harassing some of the female staff members. This came out in gossip at one of our beer parties, and it reached the right ears of a staff member who hadn't heard this before. Two days later, he was gone gone gone.

Titus said...

The men doing this are all gross physically. I think they can't get pussy any other way so they have women sit on their laps and give them a shower and watch them wank.

I am grateful that I am able to get pussy whenever I want. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to go through life and not be desired and wanted sexually.

thank you.

Oso Negro said...

It is a funny line between sexual interaction and sexual harassment. Over the years, I had sex with a good number of female co-workers. But it was clear that they wanted it, and a fair number of them initiated it. It all comes down to the "want". The men we have been reading about apparently lacked finesse at the art of seduction. Perhaps they weren't adept at reading female signals of sexual interest, or perhaps they thought they were so mighty that no finesse was required.

Titus said...

I am afraid of the day when no one wants my hard hung hog. Then what? Probably death.

Oso Negro said...

@Titus - What experience do you have with pussy? And I mean real pussy, not colon and dick. Did you ever try it? How did you find it?

John Christopher said...


This has all been eye opening and I'm disappointed in myself for my naivete. I don't think this kind of shit happens at my job, but maybe I'm wrong. I'm very private and older than most of the employees, so am not at the happy hours or softball games.

I've worked with a million assholes over the years. Men who lie. Men who try to bully to get their way. Men who have affairs. But no one, to my knowledge would sexually harass a lower-level employee.

If a guy tried to pull what Halperin is accused of doing, I'd like to think that I and the other men in the office would march down to his office throw him out the window.

FullMoon said...

You become the special transgressive kids among the stiff...
Haha!

Sit on my lap, we will talk about the first thing that comes up.

Rick Turley said...

tim in vermont said...

"John Denver used to say there were 'gods' among men and he was one of them, though he evidently couldn't fly."

And a god would have known to top off the fuel tanks before taking off.

William said...

I wonder if Warren Beatty ever tried the "sit on my lap, honey " line on any of his several thousand reputed conquests. I wonder if any of the women who sat on Halperin's lap went on to further intimacies. I wonder if any of the women among this subset got a career boost from those intimacies.........I disapprove of Halperin's behavior, but it's not ghastly. I can't imagine behaving the way Weinstein, Toback, or, God forbid, the way Polanski did. Halperin's misdeeds fall within the realm of comprehensible human behavior. He deserves punishment, but how much is sufficient.

MayBee said...

I've seen over and over that you can't blame the women for not reporting it, and that's true.

But at the same time, you can't expect anything to be done unless you report it.
So let's think of a plan of action, people. All this #MeToo has to come to something, and it shows the people being harassed they most likely have allies if it happens.

walter said...

Ann Althouse said...You become the special transgressive kids among the stiffs in the workplace
--
Ha!!
"
"he was certainly in a superior position to mine."
All relative.
If she was caught off-guard, she should have watched more porn...she would have seen it..coming.

Feranandinande said...

"confused, shaken and ashamed."

As opposed to confused, stirred and ashamed.

walter said...

"Surely if I submit..again, he will grow tired of this"

SeanF said...

Oso Negro: @Titus - What experience do you have with pussy? And I mean real pussy, not colon and dick. Did you ever try it? How did you find it?

"I just lifted up her skirt, and there it was!"

walter said...

"Hmm..never pictured him a Motley Crue fan."
"What? Sweatpants? It's not even casual Friday!"

Joe Veenstra said...

How about don't do this shit to your underlings at work and not be a disgusting ass to your co-workers. What a piece of shit.

TWW said...

Capitalism using the barter system.

TWW said...

So, let me see if I understand?. Dianna Goldberg admits that Halperin was not her superior, that she agreed to sit on his lap voluntarily in exchange for proprietary information, that she profited from that information and that she did it FOUR subsequent times.

But, she laments, it made her feel bad. Like the old joke: "we've already determined that; we're just arguing over price."

I call it Capitalism using the Barter system.

And look at the headline closely: 'I don't want to sit on your lap she THOUGHT'. She didn't SAY, 'I don't want to sit, she THOUGHT' she didn't!!! .....The headline goes on: 'But, she alleges, Mark Halperin insisted'. Apparently he has thought reading capabilities.

Doug said...

S.E. Cupp makes accusations against three abusers, but doesn't name names.
Why not?

glenn said...

The folks at MSNBCNNABCBS. aren’t mad because Mark is a creep. They are mad because the rest of us found out.

Bob said...

Now THAT is how you mansplain!

Fritz said...

This reminds me of the old Walmart parking lot joke:

"A ‘heads up’ for those men who may be regular customers at Lowe’s, Home Depot, Costco, or even Wal-Mart.

Last month I became a victim of a clever scam while shopping. Simply going to get supplies turned out to be quite traumatic. Don’t be naive enough to think it couldn’t happen to you or your friends.

Here’s how the scam works:

Woman washing car windshield scam

Two nice-looking, college-aged girls, in short shorts, will come up to your vehicle as you are putting away your purchases. They both start wiping your windshield with soap and water, with their breasts almost falling out of their skimpy T-shirts. (It’s impossible not to look).

When you thank them and offer them a tip, they say ‘No’ but instead ask for a ride to McDonald’s. You agree and they climb in the vehicle. On the way, they start undressing. Then one of them starts crawling all over you, while the other one steals your wallet.

I had my wallet stolen June 4th, 9th, 10th, twice on the 15th, 17th, 20th, 24th, & 29th. Also, July 1st & 4th, twice on the 8th, 16th, 23rd, 26th & 27th, and very likely again this upcoming weekend.

So tell your friends to be careful."

Michael K said...

"I am grateful that I am able to get pussy whenever I want."

I think you mean assholes, don;t you ?

Leora said...

I can imagine voluntarily sitting on a coworkers lap, but not being shaken and confused about it. If someone whose lap I didn't want to sit on asked I would politely say no thank you.

I am irresistibly reminded of the song from Guys and Dolls "Take Back Your Mink."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcW2mZbMS9E

Bad Lieutenant said...


Michael K said...
"I am grateful that I am able to get pussy whenever I want."

I think you mean assholes, don;t you ?
10/27/17, 1:58 PM


Doc,

Titus is confused.

That is to say, Titus is not real.

...but pretend I didn't say anything, and enjoy the show!

Nurse Rooke said...

I've been working all day so this might be too late but earlier I commented that I, as a nice bourgeois girl, found it unimaginable to even countenance sitting on a colleague's lap. Althouse pointed out a situation in which it WOULD be imaginable: the lure of the daringly transgressive.

OK! Game on! I could in fact now imagine a scenario in which I might--just might--agree to sit on a colleague's lap. But in my mind there would definitely have to be an element of deliberate sexual knowingness. And if I changed my half-way through--when, say, his conversation around the whole erection thing became gross--then I feel I would also have to acknowledge my own complicity.

The whole point is: as an intelligent person, my brain was engaged.