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October 20, 2020, 11:05 am CDT
Vice was first to report the news in a story noted by Above the Law. According to the updated version of the Vice story, Toobin allegedly masturbated during the call; he told the publication that he thought the video was muted, and he made “an embarrassingly stupid mistake.”
The incident allegedly happened last week during an election simulation between employees of the New Yorker and WNYC radio, according to two anonymous sources who spoke with Vice. Toobin was playing the role of the courts. During the strategy session, employees playing Democrats and Republicans went into separate break rooms for about 10 minutes.
It appeared that Toobin then went on separate call. The New York Times described the second call as “the video-call equivalent of phone sex,” based on a description by two anonymous sources.
When the groups returned from break rooms, Toobin lowered the camera and he could be seen touching his penis, Vice alleged. Toobin then left the Zoom call and called back in to the election simulation call, appearing to be unaware that his actions were seen by the participants.
The New York Times spoke with Masha Gessen, a New Yorker writer who played the role of President Donald Trump during the simulation.
“I am quite sure that Toobin didn’t realize that the people on the New Yorker call could see him,” Gessen said. “I suspect he thought that when the breakout rooms started, he was disconnected and he didn’t realize we’d all returned to a live camera.”
This is the statement Toobin gave to Vice: “I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers. 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.”
Toobin has been a staff writer for the New Yorker for more than 25 years and a legal analyst for CNN since 2002. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School.
The New Yorker said it had suspended Toobin while it investigates the matter. CNN said Toobin had asked for some time off while he deals with “a personal issue,” and the request was granted, CNN reports.
Toobin has written several books, including books on the trial of O.J. Simpson, the U.S. Supreme Court and the investigation of President Donald Trump.
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