Jeffrey Toobin was fired from The New Yorker in November after he was caught masturbating on-camera during a Zoom call with colleagues

By Dory Jackson
June 10, 2021 05:26 PM
Advertisement
Jeffrey Toobin
Jeffrey Toobin
| Credit: Vivien Killilea/Getty

Jeffrey Toobin is back at work - and finally addressing the elephant in the room.

While making his return to CNN on Thursday, the network's chief legal analyst opened up about being terminated from his longtime role at The New Yorker in November. Nearly a month before his firing, Toobin was caught masturbating on camera during a Zoom call with his then-colleagues.

"Obviously, I wasn't thinking very well or very much. It was something that was inexplicable to me," Toobin, 61, said to CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota on CNN Newsroom. "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. ... 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. I have spent the seven subsequent months - miserable months in my life, I can certainly confess - trying to be a better person," he added.

Toobin explained that he's been seeing a therapist, writing a new book and working at a food bank following the scandal. He, in the end, is trying to "become the kind of person that people can trust again."

Asked by Camerota about how his former coworkers likely felt being on the receiving end of his exposure, Toobin said that he has spoken to "several" of his old colleagues about the scandal.

Never miss a story - sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

"They were shocked and appalled," he recalled. "I think they realized that this was not intended for them. I think they realized that this was something that I would immediately regret, as I certainly did. It was that day that I began apologizing and that is something that I have tried to continue to do both publicly and privately."

Jeffrey Toobin
Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Toobin said that he didn't want to give an insincere apology to those he hurt. "I have tried and I'm trying now to say how sorry I am, sincerely, in all seriousness," he said.

"Above all, I am sorry to my wife [Amy Bennett McIntosh] and to my family, but I'm also sorry to the people on the Zoom call," he continued. "I am sorry to my former colleagues at The New Yorker. I'm sorry to my current - fortunately still - colleagues at CNN. And I'm sorry to the people who read my work and who watched me on CNN who thought I was a better person than this. I've 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."

Following the exposure incident last October, The New Yorker initially suspended Toobin before firing him nearly one month later. He had been writing for the publication since 1993.

"I was fired today by @NewYorker after 27 years as a Staff Writer," Toobin wrote at the time in a since-deleted tweet. "I will always love the magazine, will miss my colleagues, and will look forward to reading their work."