Jeffrey Toobin leaves CNN after 2 decades as new leadership tries to rebuild network’s reputation

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin may be looking to the future after issuing a statement about his career Friday, but his past is not so easily forgotten as well-wishers congratulated him on “taking matters into his own hands.”

Toobin had joined the network in 2002 after garnering acclaim with the New Yorker magazine in the 90s for his coverage of the OJ Simpson trial. However, in 2020, he had sent his own career off a cliff when he notoriously was caught masturbating during a Zoom call with his magazine colleagues as they prepared for election coverage.

While the New Yorker had let him go after a three-week investigation, CNN had only suspended the legal pundit for eight months and now, after more than a year has passed where Toobin has tried to distance himself from his self-wrought embarrassment, he announced Friday he was throwing in the towel.

“Friends, I’ve decided that, after 20 years, I’m leaving [CNN] after my vacation,” he wrote on Twitter. “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 [Simon and Schuster].”

No further explanation was given for the sudden announcement when Toobin’s last date on air was Aug. 3. However, a source suggested to the Daily Mail that the move has everything to do with CNN’s new president Chris Licht and his efforts to salvage the reputation of the ratings-starved network.

“Chris is really focused on CNN turning a corner. He actually listens to what people want and isn’t driven by ego,” the source told the outlet.

“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,” he went on, “especially the women of CNN.”

If nothing else, the last part of the source’s assessment stands to reason as CNN’s Alisyn Camerota had appeared visibly uncomfortable when the network gave her the unenviable task of interviewing Toobin at the conclusion of his suspension.

“What the hell were you thinking?” she asked at the time.

“Well obviously, I wasn’t thinking very well or. very much,” he awkwardly explained, “and it was something inexplicable to me. 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.”

The decision to bring Toobin back wasn’t the only questionable choice the network had made involving the legal analyst as they had also brought him in to cover the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade despite previously fathering a child with Casey Greenfield, the daughter of onetime CNN colleague Jeff Greenfield. Toobin had reportedly pressured Casey to get an abortion before denying the child was his only to have a DNA test prove otherwise.

Toobin’s Zoom call remained top for his “hall of shame” moments and social media was certain to remind the legal analyst of that as they remarked on his departure from the network.


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