Many at CNN were not happy the network decided to allow legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin back on the air after a nearly eight-month absence following news he had exposed himself while on a Zoom meeting with New Yorker coworkers.
CNN insiders told the Daily Beast that while anchor Alisyn Camerota and those in the studio welcomed Toobin back on Thursday, many others in the newsroom didn’t think he should be allowed to return to the network so easily. Toobin was provided an entire segment to apologize for his previous behavior, before being asked to weigh in on current news as if he had never left.
“The way [the network] brought him back on air was a bit inappropriate in terms of a full segment of mea culpa and then a hard pivot to his legal analysis on air,” one female CNN staffer told the Beast.
This same staffer told the outlet that the “general feeling” in the newsroom was that they “trust” The New Yorker’s investigation into Toobin’s behavior to determine whether his Zoom masturbation incident was the only issue, they didn’t know whether CNN conducted its own probe.
“And if so, why weren’t we informed?” the staffer added.
Another CNN employee told the Beast that Toobin’s return is “just awkward,” while another said, “Oof.”
Those in the studio with Toobin showed little sign of hesitance at his return, one anonymous source told the Beast.
“Men and women hugged him after he left the set,” the source told the outlet. “They seemed happy he was back. It’s invisible if people are grossed out because they wouldn’t be the ones to come up to him. The couple dozen in the newsroom seem happy to have him back.”
A former CNN contributor told the Beast that it was “insane” to have Toobin back on air, even if they weren’t “surprised” the network brought him back.
One CNN insider groused that “it’d be nice if occasionally CNN held itself to the same standards it correctly holds Fox to.”
As sportswriter Clay Travis noted on Twitter, “CNN banned me from their network for saying I believed in the first amendment and boobs, but they just rehired a guy caught masturbating on a Zoom call and had him discuss it live on air.”
CNN banned me from their network for saying I believed in the first amendment and boobs, but they just rehired a guy caught masturbating on a Zoom call and had him discuss it live on air. pic.twitter.com/RqRVNjPu1o
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) June 11, 2021
As The Daily Wire’s Hank Berrien reported on Thursday, CNN welcomed back Toobin and allowed him to apologize for his behavior, with Camerota beginning the segment by saying: “I feel like we should address what’s happened in the months since we’ve seen you, since some of our viewers may not know what has happened. So I guess I’ll recap: I’ll do the honors.”
Camerota then explained Toobin’s situation:
Okay. In October, you were on a Zoom call with your colleagues from The New Yorker magazine, everyone took a break for several minutes, during which time you were caught masturbating on camera. You were subsequently fired from that job after 27 years of working there, and you, since then have been on leave from CNN. Do I have all that right?
Toobin agreed with her explanation and went on to describe his side of events.
“Well, obviously, I wasn’t thinking very well or very much. And 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; I didn’t think I was on the call. I didn’t think other people could see me,” he said.
He added, after Camerota prompted, that he thought his camera had been turned off. Later, he reminded Camerota that he apologized profusely to his colleagues who were on the call both publicly and privately.
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