"At least @CNN is honest now about having no journalistic standards whatsoever. Such honesty must be freeing!" National Review contributor Pradheep J. Shanker reacted.
"This is garbage," Meghan McCain of "The View" slammed the network. "Why does the media protect these old white male dinosaurs in this industry? No woman on PLANET EARTH would be welcomed back on network tv after being caught masturbating in front of her colleagues."
"Never thought I’d see a network effort to rehabilitate a guy caught yanking it in front of female colleagues, but ‘this is CNN,’" radio host Dana Loesch tweeted.
"Awkward doesn't quite cover this interview," Insider media correspondent Claire Atkinson wrote.
"This man must've had some dirt on somebody with power 'cause this is just beyond," former Splinter News journalist Jorge Rivas asserted.
"Presumably, Laura Coates will get moved to the back burner to create airtime for Toobin," New York Times reporter Katie Rosman predicted about the status of CNN's other senior legal analyst.
Other critics highlighted that CNN is the same network that let its star liberal anchor Chris Cuomo off the hook after it was revealed that he had been advising his brother, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, amid his sexual misconduct scandal but let go of its Republican contributor Rick Santorum for remarks he made about Native Americans.
"You can jerk off in front of coworkers or help your brother cover up sexual harassment allegations and you'll be safe knowing that CNN will still not fire you," Stephen Miller wrote.
"It's just baffling that Rick Santorum had to go, but Cuomo, after everything he's done, and Toobin, after what he did, are fine. CNN's standards are pathetic," NewsBusters associate editor Scott Whitlock said.
Tara Reade, the former Senate staffer who came forward last year with a sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden, tore into the liberal network.
"@CNN always got the perverts back but you smash survivors of sexual assault when they come forward," Reade wrote. "Your outlet is misogynistic, xenophobic weaponized arm of the Establishment @TheDemocrats. Hypocrisy & bad taste abounds."
Notably, CNN avoided Reade's claims over an entire month on-air.
Even one of CNN's own contributors mocked the network's decision to roll out the red carpet for Toobin.
"So yer telling me I could have had this career *and* an OnlyFans," joked Mary Katherine Ham, one of CNN's few conservative commentators.
Toobin, who was swiftly fired from The New Yorker last year for his conduct, listened as daytime anchor Alisyn Camerota had the painfully awkward "honors" of describing what happened and its consequences. Toobin was witnessed by colleagues exposing himself and masturbating on a staff Zoom call, leading to widespread ridicule of the veteran journalist.
"What the hell were you thinking?" Camerota asked during the in-person interview, not a Zoom one.
"Well, obviously, I wasn't thinking very well or very much, and it was something that was 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," he said with his hands kept above the table.
Toobin claimed The New Yorker's investigation before its firing found no other complaints against him, although this wasn't his only sex scandal. Toobin fathered a child in 2009 with Casey Greenfield, the daughter of Toobin's onetime CNN colleague Jeff Greenfield.
Toobin urged Greenfield to have an abortion and was later taken to court after he denied the child was his. Toobin was forced to take a DNA test which proved that he was the child's biological father and was ordered to pay child support.
"Do you think … that the punishment fits the crime?" Camerota asked of his firing.
"I am the worst person to ask that question," he said. "I mean, obviously, I love The New Yorker. I loved working there. I felt like I was a very good contributor to that magazine for a very long time, and I thought this punishment was excessive, but look, you know, that's why they don't ask the criminal to be the judge in his own case. I mean, I thought it was an excessive punishment. I'm incredibly grateful to CNN for taking me back."
Fox News' David Rutz contributed to this report.