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CNN’s Brian Stelter: Jeffrey Toobin ‘Sidelined At A Pivotal Moment’ During Election

CNN’s Brian Stelter: Jeffrey Toobin ‘Sidelined At A Pivotal Moment’ During Election


CNN host Brian Stelter seemed to suggest that perhaps his network’s regular legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin was unfairly “sidelined” after the New Yorker suspended him for reportedly masturbating on a company Zoom call.

In a tweet on Monday, Stelter characterized Toobin’s undoing as a deeply unfortunate circumstance in light of the current election, as if a beloved member of the “Never Trump” team had been benched before the big game.

“Jeffrey Toobin has been sidelined at a pivotal moment in the run-up to the presidential election,” tweeted Stelter. “The reason: He exposed himself during a Zoom call with New Yorker colleagues in what he says was an accident.”

Stelter was roundly mocked for his characterization of the situation.

“He was pounding his pud on a work Zoom call. You’re just sad,” responded one Twitter user.

“This can’t be true , his wife worked for the Obama administration . He must be a good person or Democrat party press office – CNN branch- wouldn’t hire him,” responded another.

“The ‘full story’ is that he was jerking off during the meeting, so this framing is odd. ‘During a pivotal moment in the run-up to the presidential election’ is irrelevant and reads like you think he shouldn’t be sidelined. Get it together, man,” responded Cody Johnston.

“The framing of this is incredibly problematic. Toobin has not ‘been sidelined’ for ‘an accident.’ He has been suspended for subjecting his colleagues to sexual misconduct. He is not a victim. This is not something that has been done to him,” tweeted Molly McCluskey. 

Vice reported on Monday that two anonymous sources confirmed that Toobin mistakenly exposed himself to his New Yorker colleagues during a Zoom video chat last week:

The two sources described a juncture in the election simulation when there was a strategy session, and the Democrats and Republicans went into their respective break out rooms for about 10 minutes. At this point, they said, it seemed like Toobin was on a second video call. The sources said that when the groups returned from their break out rooms, Toobin lowered the camera. The people on the call said they could see Toobin touching his penis. Toobin then left the call. Moments later, he called back in, seemingly unaware of what his colleagues had been able to see, and the simulation continued.

Toobin said that he believed the video camera was off at the time of the incident.

“I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers,” he said in a statement to Vice. “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.”

As for Stelter’s assertions about Toobin’s media presence during this “pivotal time,” the CNN legal analyst has certainly been a regular face at the network in recent weeks due to the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Shortly after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Toobin said that Democrats will wimp out and not put up much of a fight.

“They’re weak, they’re wimps and they’re afraid,” he added. “We think about Bush v. Gore. In 2016, Al Gore said, ‘No street protests. This is just a legal process.’ There is a difference to how Democrats and Republicans go about these fights and we’ll see if Democrats learn anything from Republicans here. Yes, it’s interesting that Chuck Schumer said nothing is off the table, but that’s not a commitment to do anything,”

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