Jeffrey Toobin returns to CNN following Zoom call scandal

Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin has returned to CNN. 

Toobin, a longtime pundit on the network, had been on leave since October after he exposed himself on a Zoom call with fellow staffers at The New Yorker last year, a publication he had worked at for 27 years.

After being suspended from The New Yorker following the incident, Toobin apologized and said he unintentionally exposed himself to his coworkers during a break on the call. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers," Toobin said at the time. "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."

CNN reported on Thursday that Toobin was back as chief legal analyst at the network, and was interviewed by anchor Alisyn Camerota on "CNN Newsroom."

"I feel like we should address what's happened in the months since we've seen you," Camerota told Toobin, who joined her in-studio for the interview, before asking him, "To quote Jay Leno, 'what the hell were you thinking?' "

"Well obviously I wasn't thinking very well or very much," he replied. "I thought that I had turned off the Zoom call. Now, that's not a defense. This was deeply moronic and indefensible, but that is part of the story." 

Toobin told Camerota he has spent the last seven months, which he called "miserable," trying to "be a better person."

"In therapy, trying to do some public service, working in a food bank ... I am trying to become the kind of person that people can trust again," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Camerota pressed Toobin on if he has thought about what it must have been like being on the other end of that Zoom call and seeing a colleague expose themselves.

"They were shocked and appalled," Toobin said, mentioning that he had spoken with several of his former co-workers at the publication about the incident. "I think they realize that this was not intended for them. I think they realize this was something that I would immediately regret." 

Toobin suggested that having covered a number of major political scandals during the course of his career has made him focused on not giving lip service to his bad behavior, or engaging in what he referred to as "a politician's apology." 

He also called the New Yorker's decision to fire him "heartbreaking" but noted that an internal investigation by the outlet's parent company found no previous instances of misconduct during his decades-long career there. 

"So you're saying there will be no surprise after this that will come out," Camerota asked, to which Toobin chuckled and answered there will not be. 

"I've got a lot to rebuild," he said. "But I feel very privileged and lucky that I'm going to be able to try and do that."