Toobin appeared Thursday on CNN for the first time in eight months to discuss the incident that took place last October, in which he exposed himself during a Zoom meeting with his New Yorker co-workers.
Anchor Alisyn Camerota first summarized the incident that resulted in Toobin’s dismissal.
“In October, you were on a Zoom call with your colleagues from The New Yorker magazine,” Camerota said to Toobin. “Everyone took a break for several minutes, during which time you were caught masturbating on camera. You were subsequently fired from that job after 27 years of working there. And you, since then, have been on leave from CNN. Do I have all that right?”
“You got it all right. Sad to say,” replied Toobin, who had been a staff writer at The New Yorker.
Camerota then asked Toobin point-blank, “To quote Jay Leno, ‘What the hell were you thinking?’”
Toobin admitted that at the time of the incident, thinking wasn’t a top priority.
“Well, obviously, I wasn’t thinking very well or very much,” he said. “And it was something that was inexplicable to me. I think one point — I wouldn’t exactly say in my defense, because nothing is really in my defense — I didn’t think I was on the call. I didn’t think other people could see me.”
He emphasized, though, that his behavior “was deeply moronic and indefensible.”
Toobin also apologized to his wife, the rest of his family, the people who were on the Zoom call that day, his former colleagues and “the people who read my work and who watched me on CNN who thought I was a better person than this.”
“And so, you know, I got a lot to rebuild,” he continued. “But I feel very privileged and very lucky that I’m gonna be able to try to do that.”
CNN noted that Toobin will be returning to the network as its chief legal analyst.
Toobin said he’s spent the last several “miserable months” in tele-exile working at a food bank, going to therapy and writing a book about the Oklahoma City bombing.
“I am trying to become the kind of person that people can trust again,” he said.
Toobin went on to say that he’s responsible for everything that happened to him, but seemed miffed that The New Yorker had fired him after 27 years just for the one incident.
The legal analyst said he thought the firing was “excessive” punishment, but he added, “That’s why they don’t ask the criminal to be the judge in his own case.”
Many Twitter users had strong opinions about the interview and Toobin’s return to CNN.