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CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin apologised on Thursday for masturbating on a work Zoom call with The New Yorker magazine, where he was a staff writer before departing over the incident.
During an interview on the network with host Alisyn Camerota, Mr Toobin, CNN’s top legal analyst, was confronted by his colleague about his actions leading to his departure from The New Yorker and his personal leave of absence from CNN. Mr Toobin had not appeared on the network since the October incident, and was fired by the magazine in November following a suspension.
“I feel like we should address what has happened in the months since we have seen you [last],” Ms Camerota began the interview, before digging in immediately to the heart of the issue.
“In October you were on a Zoom call with your colleagues from The New Yorker magazine. Everyone took a break for several minutes, during which time you were caught masturbating on camera,” Ms Camerota said, before adding. “To quote Jay Leno, what the hell were you thinking?”
“Well, obviously, I wasn’t thinking very well, or very much,” Mr Toobin responded.
Mr Toobin went on to say that while there was no real defence for his actions, he “did not think people could see me” while performing the sexual act in front of his computer.
“This was deeply moronic and indefensible,” he said on CNN on Thursday.
“There is no defence for my conduct,” he added.
The awkward interview is the first sign that Mr Toobin could once again become a regular on the network at which he previously was a fixture before his leave of absence began last year.
Network representatives previously addressed Mr Toobin’s fate in a brief statement to The New York Times last fall, explaining that the legal analyst “has asked for some time off while he deals with a personal issue, which we have granted.”
Condé Nast, which owns The New Yorker, at the time cited the need to foster a workplace environment of respect when Mr Toobin was fired in November.
The incident also resulted in Mr Toobin’s indefinite ban from programs produced by New York Public Radio, as the call on which Mr Toobin’s sexual act occurred also included employees of WNYC, a New York radio station.