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MARK HALPERIN Printer Friendly Page

The ABC’s of Media Bias
By Lowell Ponte
October 14, 2004

 


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  • Senior political analyst with NBC and MSNBC
  • Former Political Director of ABC News  
  • Former political analyst with Bloomberg News
  • Son of leftwing foreign-policy expert Morton Halperin
  • Brother of former speechwriter to Democrat President Bill Clinton 

 

Mark Halperin was born on January 11, 1965 in Bethesda, Maryland, the son of foreign-policy specialist Morton Halperin. In 1987 Mark Halperin graduated from Harvard University, where he had been the associate managing editor of the Harvard Crimson campus newspaper. He joined ABC News in January 1988 as a desk assistant, and soon thereafter he was assigned to the investigative unit of World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, where he also did some work as a general assignment reporter.

In 1992, Halperin became a full-time off-air producer traveling with the presidential campaign of then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. At one point during the campaign, Halperin provided to Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos a copy that ABC had obtained of Mr. Clinton's youthful letter to his ROTC commander, in which Clinton had described himself as one of “so many fine people [who] have come to find themselves still loving their country but loathing the military.” By furnishing Stephanopoulos with this letter, Halperin gave candidate Clinton advance warning that enabled him to prepare his response before facing reporters' questions about a document which Clinton had believed no longer existed.

After Clinton won the 1992 election, Hal
perin covered the president-elect’s transition to power as well as the first two years of the new administration. His father, Morton Halperin, became a Clinton appointee to a variety of high-level government posts.

In the fall of 1994, Mark Halperin became a producer with ABC's Special Events Unit in New York. In 1997 he was promoted to the post of political director for ABC News. That same year, Mark's brother David began a four-year stint in the Clinton administration as a speechwriter and a special assistant for national security affairs.

In
January 2002 Mark Halperin created The Note, an ABC News online publication that covered contemporary political events. Therein, he wrote in February 2004 that “the Washington and political press corps operate with a good number of biases and predilections,” which “include, but are not limited to, a near-universal shared sense that liberal political positions on social issues like gun control, homosexuality, abortion, and religion are the default, while more conservative positions are 'conservative positions'.” Among the liberal positions, Halperin elaborated, were “a belief that government is a mechanism to solve the nation’s problems; that more taxes on corporations and the wealthy are good ways to cut the deficit and raise money for social spending and don’t have a negative affect on economic growth; and that emotional examples of suffering … are good ways to illustrate economic statistic stories.” Further, Halperin affirmed that “the worldview of the dominant media can be seen in every frame of video and every print word choice that is currently being produced about the presidential race.”[1]  On another occasion, in November 2006, Halperin stated that reporters are “overwhelmingly liberal,” “hate the military,” and are “blind” to their biases.

On October 8, 2004 – just hours before
 ABC Good Morning America co-host Charlie Gibson was scheduled to moderate the second presidential debate between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat John Kerry – Halperin issued an internal memo directing his ABC reporters to ignore or minimize misstatements by Kerry but to attack any misstatements by Bush. Wrote Halperin: “[T]he current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done. Kerry distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win. We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides 'equally' accountable when the facts don't warrant that. I'm sure many of you have this week felt the stepped up Bush efforts to complain about our coverage. This is all part of their efforts to get away with as much as possible with the stepped up, renewed efforts to win the election by destroying Senator Kerry at least partly through distortions. It's up to Kerry to defend himself, of course. But as one of the few news organizations with the skill and strength to help voters evaluate what the candidates are saying to serve the public interest. Now is the time for all of us to step up and do that right.”

Halperin and political journalist John F. Harris co-authored a 2006 book titled The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008.

Halperin has been a
member of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics' board of directors since 2006, and of its public advisory board since 2008.

Shortly after stepping down from his position as political director of ABC News in March 2007, Halperin was
hired as a political analyst and editor by TIME magazine.

In June 2010, Halperin became a senior political analyst with MSNBC. That same year, he and journalist John Heileman co-authored the New York Times bestseller about the 2008 presidential election, Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime.

On June 30, 2011, Halperin sparked controversy with a comment he made as a guest on the Morning Joe news-talk program hosted by Joe Scarborough. Suggesting that President Barack Obama had been “posturing” over a spending-cut/tax-hike deal with the Republicans, Halperin -- mistakenly believing that the program was on a seven-second delay (allowing for objectionable language to be filtered out before airing) -- said: “I thought he [Obama] was kind of a dick yesterday.” Shortly after the program, Halperin was suspended indefinitely by MSNBC for what the network described as his “completely inappropriate and unacceptable” remark. Halperin likewise offered his “heartfelt and profound apology to the president, to my MSNBC colleagues and to the viewers.” His suspension was lifted in early August 2011.

In 2014, Halperin and
Heileman co-authored their second book, Double Down: Game Change 2012, about Obama's re-election.

After a stint as a co-host on Bloomberg TV and as managing editor of Bloomberg Politics.com, Halperin rejoined MSNBC and NBC News as a senior political analyst in March 2017.

For additional information on Mark Halperin, click here.


NOTE:

[1] Halperin said that
“the press, by and large”: (a) “does not accept President Bush’s justifications for the Iraq war”; (b) “does not understand how educated, sensible people could possibly be wary of multilateral institutions or friendly, sophisticated European allies”; (c) “does not accept the proposition that the Bush tax cuts helped the economy”; and (d) “has a hard time understanding how … President Bush’s base remains extremely and loyally devoted to him — and it [the press] looks for every opportunity to find cracks in that base.”

 

 

 

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