CNN Welcomes Back Legal Analyst Who Left After Masturbating On Zoom Call

On Thursday, CNN welcomed back legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who had been fired from The New Yorker after he was caught masturbating on a Zoom call with his colleagues last October. Toobin look a leave of absence from CNN after the incident, which was first reported by Vice.

CNN’s Alisyn Camerota started 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.”

“Help yourself,” Toobin offered.

Camerota stated, “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?”

“You got it all right, sad to say,” Toobin replied.

“Okay, so let’s start there,” Camerota agreed. “To quote Jay Leno, ‘What the hell were you thinking?’”

Toobin then began by saying his actions were “inexplicable” to him, then admitted he “didn’t think people could see” him: “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.”

Camerota: “You thought that you had turned off your camera?”

“Correct,” Toobin answered. “I thought that 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. And I have spent the seven subsequent months, miserable months in my life, I can certainly confess, trying to be a better person. [I’m] in therapy, I’m trying to do some public service; I’m working in a food bank, which I am certainly going to continue to do; working on a new book about the Oklahoma City bombing, but I am trying to become the kind of person that people can trust again.”

“I’m sure you’ve replayed that embarrassing moment over and over many times,” Camerota stated. “Have you ever thought about what it must have been like to be on the receiving end of that Zoom call?”

“Well, I haven’t just thought about it; I’ve spoken to several of my former colleagues at The New Yorker about it,” Toobin claimed. “They were shocked and appalled. I think they realized that this was not intended for them; I think they realized that this was something that I would immediately regret, as I certainly did. And it was then, it was that day, that I began apologizing, and that is something that I have tried to continue to do both publicly and privately.”

“You know, we’ve covered a lot of political scandals, and we’ve heard what I like to think of as the ‘politician apology,’ which is, “I’m sorry if you were offended,” which always sounds to me like, “I’ve said the words. Now get off my back,” Toobin explained. “That’s exactly what I’ve tried not to do. I mean, I have tried, and I’m trying now, to say how sorry I am, sincerely, in all seriousness. Above all, I am sorry to my wife and to my family. But I’m also sorry to the people on the Zoom call. I’m sorry to my former colleagues at The New Yorker. I’m sorry to my current, fortunately, still colleagues at CNN, and I’m sorry to the people who read my work and who watched me on CNN who thought I was a better person than this. And so, I got a lot to rebuild, but I feel very privileged and very lucky that I’m going to be able to try to do that.”

Camerota asked, “One of the ironies of this whole incident is that for decades you have covered the bad judgment and sexual proclivities of public figures and politicians, like Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer and Donald Trump, and I could go on. And so, of course, it begs the question: why didn’t you have better judgment?”

“Because I didn’t have better judgment,” Toobin answered. “Because I’m a flawed human being who makes mistakes, and you know, there is no defense for my conduct. The only issue is, what should be the consequences, and The New Yorker made one decision about the consequences. CNN made a different decision, fortunately, for which I’m very grateful, but I am not going to come up here and, like, split, you know, split hairs and try to come up with justifications or explanations. It was wrong. It was stupid. And I’m trying to be a better person.”

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