NBC senior political analyst and frequent MSNBC "Morning Joe" panelist Mark Halperin has been accused of sexual harassment by five women while at ABC News in the early 2000s, according to a CNN report.
The co-author of the best-selling book "Game Change" didn't dispute the allegations, telling CNN late Wednesday that he's "deeply sorry" and will be taking a "step back" from his daily duties to deal with the situation.
"During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me," Halperin said in a statement to CNN. "I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain."
Halperin, now 52, was ABC's political director at the time.
The CNN report details accusations from the women, who asked to remain anonymous, that include overtures to employees for sex, kissing women without consent, grinding up against three woman while pressing an erection against them, and grabbing one woman's breast without consent.
According to the story, none of the women involved reported Halperin to ABC management, and no quid pro quos were offered in terms of career advancement in exchange for sex.
"Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski addressed the matter not long after the show began on Thursday morning.
"Now to a story that broke overnight involving someone you see around this table every day," Brzezinski said to the camera. "CNN is reporting allegations regarding our friend Mark Halperin during his time at ABC News over a decade ago, unnamed sources detailing unwanted advances and inappropriate behavior. Halperin apologized for the pain his actions caused and said, 'I will take a step pack from my day-to-day work while I properly address the situation.'
"We are going to be following this story as it develops. I’m sure we are going to be talking about it again when we know more about it."
MSNBC said in a statement that Halperin “is leaving his role as a contributor until the questions around his past conduct are fully understood."
NBC said in a statement that it finds the CNN report and allegations “very troubling.”
“Mark Halperin is leaving his role as a contributor until the questions around his past conduct are fully understood.”
Halperin shot to political stardom after co-authoring "Game Change," an account of the 2008 presidential election. The book was adapted into an award-winning HBO movie starring Julianne Moore as former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and Ed Harris as Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBiden falters in pledge to strengthen US alliances 20 years after 9/11, US foreign policy still struggles for balance What the chaos in Afghanistan can remind us about the importance of protecting democracy at home MORE (R-Ariz.), the party's presidential candidate that year.
This report was updated at 7:56 a.m.