CNN star legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin was suspended by one of his employers, The New Yorker, on Monday amid claims he was caught masturbating during a Zoom call with colleagues. While the prestigious magazine took action, another Toobin employer, CNN, instead issued a statement claiming he just wanted some time off.
“Jeff Toobin has asked for some time off while he deals with a personal issue, which we have granted,” a CNN spokesperson told multiple outlets after ignoring Fox News.
Vice initially reported on Monday that the magazine was investigating an incident where the legal pundit exposed himself to members of the New Yorker and WNYC radio staffs during a Zoom call last week.
“Jeffrey Toobin has been suspended while we investigate the matter,” a spokesperson for the New Yorker confirmed to Fox News.
Later in the day, Vice updated its story with the salacious detail that CNN’s top legal pundit was masturbating. But CNN’s story didn’t change. By 9 p.m. ET – hours after Vice changed its headline to, “New Yorker Suspends Jeffrey Toobin for Masturbating on Zoom Call,” CNN’s story had the same initial statement that the legal analyst simply needed to deal with a personal issue.
CNN did not immediately respond to a series of questions from Fox News, including if CNN will investigate now that the masturbating report is out there. CNN was also asked if Toobin will be allowed to participate in Election Night coverage if he’s finished tending to his personal issue by Nov. 3.
CNN’s website downplayed the story, chalking the whole thing up to an accident during a “pivotal moment” as the election looms.
“Jeffrey Toobin, CNN’s chief legal analyst and a renowned reporter for The New Yorker, has been sidelined at a pivotal moment in the run-up to the presidential election,” CNN’s Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy wrote. “The reason: He exposed himself during a Zoom call with colleagues in what he says was an accident.”
The incident happened during a Zoom meeting, which was described as an “election simulation,” featured Toobin’s New Yorker colleagues including Jane Mayer, Masha Gessen, Andrew Marantz, Jelani Cobb, Evan Osnos, Sue Halpern, and Dexter Filkins playing various roles in potential 2020 outcomes including President Trump, Joe Biden, “establishment Republicans,” ‘establishment Democrats,” and “the military.” Toobin was playing “the courts.”
According to two sources, Toobin was seen masturbating in what was supposed to be a 10-minute “strategy session” along party lines, but that it “seemed like Toobin was on a second video call.”
The allegations against Toobin are the type of thing that would often result in an outside, independent investigation. It’s unclear if CNN will enlist an outside firm to probe the claims against Toobin.
Prior to the reported masturbation, Toobin, one of CNN’s biggest stars, offered an apology for his “embarrassingly stupid mistake” and attempted to explain what led to the incident.
“I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers,” Toobin said in a statement to Motherboard. “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.”