Jeffrey Toobin Returns to CNN Eight Months After Zoom Exposure Scandal

CNN's longtime chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin has returned to the airwaves following an eight-month hiatus after he exposed himself on a video call with other journalists.

During a Thursday interview with Alisyn Camerota on CNN Newsroom, Toobin sheepishly admitted on air that he was caught masturbating but thought the call had paused and his video was shut off.

"Sad to say, obviously I wasn't thinking very well or very much.... It was deeply moronic and indefensible," he said.

Toobin, who was fired from his writer's job at The New Yorker a month after the incident, took time during his return to apologize to his family, readers and viewers, as well as to co-workers who saw what happened.

"I got a lot to rebuild, but I feel very privileged and very lucky that I'm going to be able to try to do that," he said about his return to the network.

Toobin, an attorney who previously worked in the Department of Justice, rose to prominence writing about former football star O.J. Simpson's murder trial in the 1990s and serving as a television legal analyst. He's been with CNN since 2002.

Toobin was taking part in an election simulation with staff from The New Yorker and radio station WNYC ahead of the 2020 presidential election when the mishap occurred. He had been with the magazine nearly three decades until he was fired last November.

Toobin told Camerota he's spent "miserable months" trying to make personal changes through therapy and public service.

"I have tried and am trying right now to say how sorry I am—sincerely," he said. "It was wrong, it was stupid, and I'm trying to be a better person."

A CNN spokesman told Newsweek that Toobin is officially back in the same role but there would be no further comment from the company.

CNN described his absence as a temporary move made at his request last October.

"Jeff Toobin has asked for some time off while he deals with a personal issue, which we have granted," the company said in a statement at the time.

It was widely reported that Toobin appeared to believe he was taking part in a different video call when he began masturbating—something he acknowledged in Thursday's interview.

"They were shocked and appalled, but I think they realize this was not intended for them," he said of his co-workers. "This was something I would immediately regret."

After addressing the scandal, Toobin segued into his first legal analysis since October, breaking down a recent California court decision on automatic rifles and the U.S. Supreme Court's docket.

Jeffrey Toobin returns to CNN after scandal
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin appears at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate on May 30, 2018, in Boston. Paul Marotta/Getty