- Jeffrey Toobin returned to CNN after 7 months of leave following a Zoom masturbation incident.
- The CNN chief legal analyst exposed himself to his former New Yorker colleagues in October 2020.
- Toobin, who was fired by the New Yorker, said he’s “trying to be a better person.”
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Embattled writer and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin returned to the network on Thursday nearly seven months after being caught masturbating on a
call with his former New Yorker colleagues.
Toobin appeared on television for the first time since the incident for an interview with CNN Newsroom co-host Alisyn Camerota
“To quote Jay Leno, what the hell were you thinking?” Camerota asked.
“Well obviously, I wasn’t thinking very well or very much. It was something that was inexplicable to me. I think one point, I wouldn’t exactly say in my defense, because nothing is really in my defense, but I didn’t think I was on the call. I didn’t think other people could see me,” Toobin said.
“You thought that you had turned off your camera?” Camerota said.
“Correct, I thought I had turned off the Zoom call. Now, that’s not a defense. This was deeply moronic and indefensible, but that is part of the story,” Toobin went on to say.
—Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) June 10, 2021
VICE News reported on October 19, 2020 that the veteran writer was seen masturbating and exposing himself to his colleagues from the New Yorker and some WNYC staff members during a Zoom simulation of the 2020 election. The exercise also had fellow New Yorker star reporters including Jane Mayer, Evan Osnos, Sue Halpern, Masha Gessen, Jelani Cobb, and Dexter Filkins in attendance.
At a point during the simulation where participants broke off into strategy sessions, Toobin, who was playing the role of the court system, was on a separate and very not-safe-for-work Zoom call with another woman where he was seen exposing and touching his penis.
Toobin said his colleagues were “shocked and appalled” by the matter and that he’s apologized in public and private to his former coworkers, his current CNN colleagues, and his wife and family.
The New Yorker first suspended, then fired Toobin altogether after 27 years at the magazine on November 11. He’s remained on leave at CNN since October.
Toobin said he’s spent the subsequent “miserable” months “trying to be a better person” through therapy, community service, including working at a food bank, and working on a new book about the Oklahoma City bombing.
“I am trying to become the kind of person that people can trust again,” he said.