Toobin said that his behavior was “deeply moronic and indefensible,” and that “I didn’t think I was on the call. I didn’t think other people could see me.”
Toobin was fired from the New Yorker after the incident, but it was announced that he would take time off from the network, where he is a longtime legal analyst.
CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota opened an afternoon segment on the network by saying to Toobin, “I feel like we should address what happened in the months since we have seen you. Some of our viewers may not know what has happened, so I guess I will recap. I will do the honors.”
She went on, “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 answered.
Camerota then said, “OK, let’s start there. To quote Jay Leno, what the hell were you thinking?”
Toobin answered, “Obviously I wasn’t thinking very well or very much, and it was something that was inexplicable to me.”
“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.
“You thought that you had turned off your camera?” Camerota asked.
He responded, “Correct. I thought that I had turned off the Zoom call. Now that is not a defense. This was deeply moronic and indefensible. But that is part of the story.”
Toobin said that he has spent the seven months since then — “the most miserable months in my life” — “trying to be a better person. In therapy. Trying to do some public service. Working in a food bank, which I certainly 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.”
CNN had no comment on Toobin’s return. He will be back on a regular basis.
There was some sharp criticism of CNN’s decision to retain Toobin. Megyn Kelly tweeted, “There is not a woman alive who could have done anything close to what Jeffrey Toobin did (not that one would) and kept her job. What a disgusting, incestuous boys’ club. So damned tired of it.” Meghan McCain wrote, “This is garbage. Why does the media protect these old white male dinosaurs in this industry? No woman on PLANET EARTH would be welcomed back on network tv after being caught masturbating in front of her colleagues. What does working at a food bank have to do with this?”
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