CNN star Jeffrey Toobin is taking "time off" after he was suspended by the New Yorker magazine for allegedly masturbating during a Zoom call with his colleagues. However, insiders at the cable network suggest that its chief legal analyst will "probably" return to the air after the scandal exits the headlines.
Toobin joined CNN in 2002 and has been a staple ever since. While one network insider views the Toobin as "smug," the person also acknowledged that Toobin is "respected" among colleagues, a "smart guy," and "good on TV."
And despite the incident being "embarrassing" and "humiliating" for CNN, the insider told Fox News that Toobin is "one of the biggest faces on the network" and "too valuable of a commodity" to let go.
"I wouldn’t be shocked either way," said the insider, weighing the #MeToo implications of Toobin's alleged actions against the rapidly changing news cycle two weeks before the presidential election.
A second CNN insider said that Toobin will "probably" return to the network. However, this insider noted a 2010 Gawker report outlining rumors about Toobin's aggressive sexual behavior towards women outside of his marriage. In addition, 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.
"If this was an isolated incident, it would be a different story," the second insider told Fox News. "He is a nice person and people like him. Most people don't know the history."
CNN did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.
Vice reported on Monday that the Zoom call, which was described as an "election simulation," featured Toobin's New Yorker colleagues Jane Mayer, Masha Gessen, Andrew Marantz, Jelani Cobb, Evan Osnos, Sue Halpern and Dexter Filkins playing various roles including President Trump, Joe Biden, "establishment Republicans," 'establishment Democrats," and "the military." Toobin was playing "the courts."
According to two sources, Toobin was seen masturbating in what was supposed to be a 10-minute "strategy session" along party lines, but that it "seemed like Toobin was on a second video call."
"The sources said that when the groups returned from their breakout rooms, Toobin lowered the camera," Vice said. "The people on the call said they could see Toobin touching his penis. Toobin then left the call. Moments later, he called back in, seemingly unaware of what his colleagues had been able to see, and the simulation continued."
The detail about Toobin's alleged masturbation was added to the report after it was initially published, as noted by Vice: "This piece has been updated with more detail about the call and the headline has been updated to reflect that Toobin was masturbating."
Toobin, one of CNN's biggest stars, offered an apology for his "embarrassingly stupid mistake" and attempted to explain what led to the incident.
“I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers," Toobin said in a statement to Motherboard. “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."
A spokesperson for New Yorker confirmed to Fox News, "Jeffrey Toobin has been suspended while we investigate the matter.”
CNN also said in a statement, "Jeff Toobin has asked for some time off while he deals with a personal issue, which we have granted.”