Seven months after CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin exposed himself during a work-related Zoom call, he appeared on the network Thursday to address both his firing from The New Yorker and his continued employment at the cable network.
As first reported by Vice in October, Toobin was participating in a Zoom call with colleagues from The New Yorker when several participants reportedly caught him masturbating. “I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera,” Toobin said in a statement at the time. “I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers. I believed I was not visible on Zoom. I thought no one on the Zoom call could see me. I thought I had muted the Zoom video.”
While speaking with CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota on CNN Newsroom Thursday, Toobin offered a not-terribly-detailed explanation for what happened.
“I didn’t think I was on the call. I didn’t think other people could see me,” he said, adding that he’d spent “seven miserable months” in the pursuit of “trying to be a better person.” He said he started apologizing to his New Yorker colleagues, both publicly and privately, the same day as the infamous call.
“I’ve got a lot to rebuild,” he said, repeatedly noting his gratitude to CNN for keeping him on staff, “but I feel very privileged and very lucky” to be able to do so.
When Camerota pressed about why Toobin didn’t show better judgment during the call, he replied, “Because I didn’t have better judgment. Because I’m a flawed human being who makes mistakes.”
He added: “It was wrong, it was stupid and I’m trying to be a better person.” And then he and Camerota discussed the news of the day, with Toobin apparently back on the job as analyst.
Jeff Toobin was a late night punch line after being caught red handed on a zoom call.
Now he is back and this took a lot of courage.
In my opinion, he seems very sincere. pic.twitter.com/YZGM6JYLcy
— TheSadTruth💙 (@ReportsDaNews) June 10, 2021
In the immediate wake of his gaffe, Toobin took a leave of absence from CNN. Over at The New Yorker, where Toobin had worked as a staff writer since 1993, he was initially suspended after the incident, then got fired in November following an internal investigation into the matter.
“I am writing to share with you that our investigation regarding Jeffrey Toobin is complete, and as a result, he is no longer affiliated with our company,” read a memo from Stan Duncan, chief people officer at Condé Nast. “I want to assure everyone that we take workplace matters seriously. We are committed to fostering an environment where everyone feels respected and upholds our standards of conduct.”
Toobin also addressed his New Yorker exit in a tweet at the time: “I was fired today by @NewYorker after 27 years as a Staff Writer. I will always love the magazine, will miss my colleagues, and will look forward to reading their work.”
Toobin’s book on the O. J. Simpson murder case served as the source material for FX’s limited series The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, which won nine Primetime Emmys in 2016.