The author, CNN legal analyst and New Yorker writer exposed himself during what he thought was a break in a virtual meeting last week, as Vice News first reported. Staff from the New Yorker and WNYC radio were on the call with him to plan for election coverage at the time.
Toobin waited until a break in the call, then allegedly exposed himself to masturbate while engaging with a separate call, witnesses told Vice and The New York Times. Two people familiar with the New Yorker call said it was clear that Toobin was touching himself. He then dropped off the call and returned moments later, without acknowledging what the others had just seen.
The New Yorker suspended Toobin in the wake of the incident, which became known as the “Zoom dick” scandal on Twitter Monday. CNN said he is taking “some time off while he deals with a personal issue,” and did not specify when he might return.
“I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers,” Toobin told 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.”
The 60-year-old is the latest person to accidentally share too much over Zoom, which has quickly become the go-to technology for virtual meetings during the coronavirus pandemic. Some people have faced growing pains in adapting to the video-chat technology, particularly when it comes to believing they are no longer on camera.
In July, for example, a Spanish politician accidentally live-streamed his shower to colleagues over Zoom. A California city planner was forced to resign earlier in the year after he was seen throwing a cat on Zoom.
Perhaps the most well-known Zoom incident was “poor Jennifer,” the woman who unknowingly used the toilet during a Zoom chat with her work colleagues.
Toobin has worked for the New Yorker for two decades and joined CNN in 2002. He has also written several books, including True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigations of Donald Trump, which came out in August.