Jeffrey Toobin was suspended on Monday by The New Yorker and took a leave of absence from CNN after he exposed himself during a work-related Zoom call last week.
The moment: Toobin and his fellow New Yorker staff writers last week joined employees from WNYC on the call to role-play a simulation of election night, according to Vice News, which first reported the incident.
- During a pause for breakout discussions, Toobin switched to an adult webcam stream, two people familiar with the call told The New York Times on condition of anonymity.
- Toobin then began “jerking off,” as Vice put it, in view of his colleagues, who continued as if nothing were wrong even after he rejoined the virtual meeting, anonymous sources said.
“I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera,” Toobin said in a statement on Monday. “I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers.”
- “I thought I had muted the Zoom video,” he added. “I thought no one on the Zoom call could see me.”
A spokeswoman for The New Yorker said in a statement that Toobin “has been suspended while we investigate the matter.”
- CNN, where Toobin is a senior legal analyst, said in a statement that he “has asked for some time off while he deals with a personal issue, which we have granted.”
The reaction: Some of Toobin’s colleagues defended his actions as an understandable mistake.
“I am quite sure that Toobin didn’t realize that the people on the New Yorker call could see him,” Masha Gessen, a New Yorker staff writer who was there, told Times.
But many conservative commentators were unready to forgive and forget.
Stephen Miller was among those who suggested Toobin had violated basic standards of decency — not to mention those of the feminist movement he has sometimes championed.
Some, including The Federalist co-founder Sean Davis, resurfaced Toobin’s September 2019 tweet about GOP Supreme Court nominees accused of sexual misconduct.
Others, like The Federalist editor Mollie Hemingway, recalled Toobin’s harsh moralizing during Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s 2018 confirmation process.
On CNN in September, Toobin said it was “sickening” to hear Republicans question Christine Blasey Ford’s unverified testimony that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s while the two were in high school.
- “I mean, someone thinks this woman is lying?” he said. “I mean just the idea that anyone could consider this false testimony …”
Days later, Toobin declared on the network: “If you sexually assault someone in high school, your life should be ruined.”