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CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin quits – as no-nonsense new boss works to repair broadcaster

Jeffrey Toobin, 62, on Friday announced he was leaving CNN, where he worked as a legal analyst

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin announced on Friday that he is leaving the network after 20 years, in a surprise tweet declaring he would not be returning after his vacation.

Toobin has insisted he made the decision to quit himself – but speculation is mounting that the was forced out by new boss Chris Licht.

The analyst was infamously caught masturbating on a Zoom call with colleagues at the New Yorker magazine, only to be invited back by CNN’s disgraced ex-boss Jeff Zucker. 

A source told DailyMail.com: ‘Chris is really focused on CNN turning a corner. He actually listens to what people want and isn’t driven by ego.

“He’s moving CNN back to the center, he abolished the ridiculous breaking news cut ins and graphics that drove everyone crazy and he knows that no one will shed a tear re Toobin’s departure, especially the women of CNN. 

Toobin was famously fired in November 2020 by The New Yorker, after 27 years, when he was caught on camera masturbating during a Zoom conversation with colleagues. He claimed he didn’t realize his webcam was still on when he began pleasuring himself. 

CNN's new boss Chris Licht is currently working to revive the scandal-hit network

CNN’s new boss Chris Licht is currently working to revive the scandal-hit network

 CNN suspended him for eight months before welcoming him back – to the anger of many at the network.

Toobin said that he had decided to leave, but some within the company saw it as part of a wider move by the new boss, Chris Licht, to clean up the network after scandals involving anchor Chris Cuomo and president of the company, Jeff Zucker. 

The source added: ‘He just needs to fix 9pm. We’re all rooting for the talented and undervalued Dana Bash to be given that slot.

‘You want a neutral journalist to appeal to both sides, he’s got to put Dana in.’

The 9pm slot was previously held by Chris Cuomo, who saw his show Cuomo Prime Time cancelled in late November after the anchor was suspended and then fired for helping his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, while he was accused of sexual harassment.

Since November, CNN has been trialing several potential replacements for the 9pm show – among them Jim Acosta, Laura Coates, Michael Smerconish and Sarah Sidner.

Toobin appeared on shows across the network, and on Friday he said he would miss his CNN colleagues.

CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin returned to the air in June 2021 after an eight-month suspension

CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin returned to the air in June 2021 after an eight-month suspension

‘Friends, I’ve decided that, after 20 years, I’m leaving @CNN after my vacation,’ he tweeted. 

‘Was great to spend my last day on air with pals Wolf, Anderson and Don. Love all my former colleagues. 

‘Watch for my next book, about the Oklahoma City bombing, coming in 2023 from @simonandschuster’.

Toobin’s return to CNN a year ago, in June 2021, was accompanied by a fawning interview in which he issued to a groveling apology to his colleagues for his ‘deeply moronic’ behavior and said he was ‘incredibly grateful’ for being allowed back on air.  

‘I’m sorry to the people who were on the Zoom call,’ he said in his first interview, with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. 

Asked if he had thought about what it was like to be on the receiving end of the Zoom call, Toobin said: ‘They were shocked and appalled. 

‘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 then, it was that day that I began apologizing and that is something that I have tried to continue to do both publicly and privately.’ 

Toobin exposed himself to his New Yorker colleagues and masturbated during the Zoom call back in October while they were preparing for their election coverage. 

He still maintains that he thought he had muted himself on the Zoom call and was no longer visible. 

‘Obviously I wasn’t thinking very well, or very much, and it was something that was inexplicable to me. 

‘I wouldn’t say in my defense because nothing is in my defense but I didn’t think that I was on the call. I didn’t think other people could see me. I thought I had turned off the Zoom call,’ he said.

‘That is not a defense, this was deeply moronic and indefensible but that is part of the story.’ 

Toobin went on to say that he had spent ‘seven miserable months’ off-air ‘trying to be a better person’. 

He added that he had been in therapy and had spent time volunteering. 

‘I am trying to become that person that people can trust again,’ he said.  

Toobin was welcomed back by CNN for the first time for a fawning interview with Alisyn Camerota in which he issued to a groveling apology to his colleagues

Toobin was welcomed back by CNN for the first time for a fawning interview with Alisyn Camerota in which he issued to a groveling apology to his colleagues

During his first appearance back on air, Toobin apologized to his wife Amy McIntosh and his three children

During his first appearance back on air, Toobin apologized to his wife Amy McIntosh and his three children

Speaking about the New Yorker’s decision to fire him, Toobin said he believed the punishment was ‘excessive’. 

‘I am a flawed human being who makes mistakes. There is no defense for my conduct. The only issue is what should be the consequences.

‘The New Yorker made one decision about the consequences, CNN made a different decision. I am not going to come up here and try to split hairs and try to come up with justifications.

‘It was wrong, it was stupid and I’m trying to become a better person. 

‘I am incredibly grateful to CNN for taking me back.’ 

Toobin had been a staff writer at the New Yorker since 1993 before he was fired over the Zoom incident. 

He has been a CNN contributor since 2002. 

He famously covered the OJ Simpson trial for the New Yorker in the 1990s and later wrote a book about his coverage that became the basis of the The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story TV show in 2016.

Prior to joining the New Yorker, Toobin had worked as an Assistant United States Attorney in Brooklyn and is a Harvard graduate. 


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