Jeffrey Toobin, a staff writer for the New Yorker and frequent CNN analyst, has been suspended by the magazine after he was seen “masturbating on a Zoom video chat last week,” Vice reported on Monday.
Citing two sources “who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely,” Vice said “it was unclear how much each individual person on the call saw, but both of the people we spoke to said that they saw Toobin” masturbating.
The two sources described a juncture in the election simulation when there was a strategy session, and the Democrats and Republicans went into their respective break out rooms for about 10 minutes. At this point, they said, it seemed like Toobin was on a second video call. The sources said that when the groups returned from their break out rooms, Toobin lowered the camera. The people on the call said they could see Toobin touching his penis. Toobin then left the call. Moments later, he called back in, seemingly unaware of what his colleagues had been able to see, and the simulation continued.
Toobin said it was all an accident. “I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers,” he said in a statement to Vice.
“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,” he added.
New Yorker spokesman Natalie Raabe told the site: “Jeffrey Toobin has been suspended while we investigate the matter.”
Toobin’s Conde Nast email has been disabled and he has not tweeted since October 13. He did, however, appear on CNN, where he is the network’s chief legal analyst, on Saturday. “Jeff Toobin has asked for some time off while he deals with a personal issue, which we have granted,” CNN said in a statement.
The magazine, where Toobin, a Harvard graduate, has worked since 1993, offered no further comment about the incident or the length of his suspension.
“Toobin has been omnipresent on the network as a commentator on legal controversies and the Trump administration,” The Washington Post reported. “A prolific author, Toobin’s latest book is ‘a real-life legal thriller about the prosecutors and congressional investigators pursuing the truth about Donald Trump’s complicity in several crimes — and why they failed.’”
That book is titled, ” True Crimes and Misdemeanors, the Investigation of Donald Trump.”
The writer covered the OJ Simpson trial for the magazine in the 1990s and turned his coverage into a book, which was used by FX to create “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story’’ in 2016, which drew praise from TV critics.
Last month, Toobin said he fears that Democrats are too “weak” to keep Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat empty long enough to oust Trump from office.
Speaking on a CNN panel, Toobin said that nobody should take seriously Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) vow to do anything and everything to block a Supreme Court nomination.
“Democrats are great about talking big, but we’ll see if he has the … if he and the other Democrats have the guts to do anything,” Toobin said. “If they retake control of the Senate, will they really add the two seats on the Supreme Court?”
“If they’re in control, why wouldn’t they?” asked host Alisyn Camerota.
“Because they’re weak, they’re wimps and they’re afraid,” he said. “We think about Bush v. Gore. In 2016, Al Gore said, ‘No street protests. This is just a legal process.’”
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