Jeffrey Toobin returned to CNN on Thursday afternoon and admitted that masturbating during a Zoom call — which got him fired from the New Yorker and led to a leave of absence from the network — was “deeply moronic and indefensible.”
“I feel like we should address what’s happened in the months since we’ve seen you,” CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota said to Toobin, who was the network’s chief legal analyst.
“To quote Jay Leno, ‘What the hell were you thinking?’”
Toobin, sporting a navy blue suit and a striped tie, responded by saying the masturbatory conduct was “deeply moronic and indefensible.”
“I didn’t think other people could see me,” he told Camerota on “CNN Newsroom” but agreed that it was no defense for his actions.
“I have tried, and I am 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 am 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 and who thought I was a better person than this.”
In October, the Harvard alum was caught pleasuring himself during an election simulation Zoom call with some of the magazine’s biggest names.
Following a three-week probe, the New Yorker’s parent company Condé Nast announced he was getting the boot after 27 years as a staff writer and he also went on leave from CNN.
Toobin told Camerota on Thursday he felt the glossy’s punishment was “excessive” and he’s “incredibly grateful to CNN for taking me back.”
“I’m trying to become the kind of person people can trust again,” Toobin said. “I am a flawed human being that makes mistakes … It was wrong, it was stupid and I’m trying to be a better person.”
He said the last seven months have been “miserable” but he’s spent the time trying to make himself a better person by going to therapy, doing public service, working at a food bank and penning a new book.
The network’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter reported that Toobin had asked CNN for some time off to deal “with a personal issue,” which the network granted. That time off then turned into a leave of absence that evidently ended eight months later on Thursday.
Citing a CNN spokesperson, Stelter reported Toobin will be back on CNN regularly as a chief legal analyst, despite the flagrant misconduct he exhibited at the New Yorker.
Stelter wrote that some anchors and hosts at CNN “expressed a desire to have Toobin back on their shows, since he has been a leading legal voice on television for decades.”
Aside from discussions about the masturbation incident, Camerota spoke with Toobin about a legal case out of California before the segment was wrapped.