Toobin was interviewed by presenter Alisyn Camerota on “CNN Newsroom” about this incident and recent legal news.
“I think we should address what has been going on in the months since we’ve seen you,” Camerota said. She summed it up and said, “To quote Jay Leno, ‘What the hell were you thinking?'”
Toobin described himself as a “flawed human being who makes mistakes” and said his conduct was “deeply stupid and indefensible”.
He added: “I didn’t think other people could see me,” but admitted it wasn’t a defense.
In the interview, Toobin apologized to his wife and family, the people who were on the Zoom call that day, and his colleagues.
“And I’m sorry for the people who read my work and watched me on CNN who thought I was a better person than that. And so, you know, I have a lot to rebuild, but I feel very privileged and very lucky that I will be able to try to do it, ”he said.
Toobin said he spent his “miserable months” off the air “trying to be a better person.”
He mentioned “therapy”; public service like working in a food bank; and an upcoming book on the Oklahoma City bombing.
“I’m trying to be the kind of person again that people can trust,” he said.
Going forward, Toobin will return to CNN regularly in his role as chief legal analyst, a spokesperson confirmed. Toobin said he was “incredibly grateful” to continue working for the network.
Toobin was sidelined last October after what happened during the Zoom call became public.
People familiar with the matter said Toobin exposed himself when he began to masturbate during the Zoom, apparently as part of another video call. People said they didn’t believe he wanted his colleagues to witness it.
When Vice heard about the incident and reported it, Toobin admitted that he made an “embarrassing and stupid mistake, believing I was off camera.”
Toobin said the New Yorker found no other form of misconduct on his part during his investigation of his 27 years at the magazine.
“The people involved told me very specifically that they had looked at my entire career… and found that there had been no complaints about me,” Toobin said. “No problem.… It was just this incident.”
Toobin said he believed the New Yorker’s decision to fire him was “undue punishment.”
“But look,” he added, “that’s why they’re not asking the criminal to be the judge in his own case.”
A spokesperson for the New Yorker declined to comment.
CNN has taken a different approach than the New Yorker. The network said at the time that Toobin requested time off “while dealing with a personal issue, which we granted.” It turned into a leave with no clear signs of his final return.
Toobin viewers have occasionally asked if he will be back on air, and neither he nor CNN has commented.
Some CNN presenters and hosts have also expressed a desire for Toobin to return to their shows, as he has been a prominent legal voice on television for decades.
Toobin admitted Thursday that not everyone would appreciate seeing him on the air again.
“I live in the world. I know social media, what the reactions are likely to be,” he said. “I hope they are at least mixed up.”