Call it a case of bad timing. Veteran journalist Jeffrey Toobin has been pulled off covering the U.S. presidential election after he was reportedly caught masturbating on a Zoom call with his colleagues.
The author, CNN legal analyst and New Yorker writer exposed himself during what he thought was a break in a virtual meeting last week, as Vice News first reported. Staff from the New Yorker and WNYC radio were on the call with him to plan for election coverage at the time.
Toobin waited until a break in the call, then allegedly exposed himself to masturbate while engaging with a separate call, witnesses told Vice and The New York Times. The report doesn’t say who was on that second call with Toobin. Two people familiar with the New Yorker call said it was clear that Toobin was touching himself. He then dropped off the call and returned moments later, without acknowledging what the others had just seen.
CNN said Toobin “has asked for some time off while he deals with a personal issue, which we have granted.” Toobin issued a statement saying “I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers.” Toobin had a long-time off and on extramarital affair with attorney Casey Greenfield. She is the daughter of American television journalist and author Jeff Greenfield and the ex-wife of screenwriter Matt Manfredi. They had a child in 2009, which Toobin initially resisted acknowledging. Ultimately, Toobin’s paternity was confirmed with a DNA test and separately, a Manhattan Family Court judge ordered Toobin to pay child support. Toobin has written several books, including an account of the O. J. Simpson murder case. That book was adapted as a TV series, The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, which aired in 2016 as the first season of FX American Crime Story; it won nine Emmy Awards.