Jeffrey Toobin returned to CNN, and predictably, conservative pundits are up in arms about a repentant person being provided a second-chance to recover his career.
First, the awkward details. Toobin was seen masturbating on a Zoom call for New Yorker magazine staff last October. He was ultimately fired from the New Yorker and a gig at WNYC radio. Toobin accepted responsibility, claiming that he did not realize he was on camera when he started pleasuring himself.
Now, nine months later, he returned to media with a job on CNN as chief legal analyst. In his appearance last night, he again offered a full apology–not a conditional “I’m sorry if I offended anyone” sidestep–calling his actions moronic and indefensible.
The typical crows came from the conservative echo chamber. Megyn Kelly–she of the rotating sexual harassment and abuse scandals at Fox News that she never disclosed until she got a generous severance payment–tweeted that no woman who would do the same would be rehired. While that may or may not be true, we’ll never know: no one has been in a similar situation, given the age of online meetings mandated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Perhaps the most inane response is The Hill’s contributor Joe Concha, who declared it a slap in the face of the #MeToo movement. Demonstrating Concha’s ignorance of what the #MeToo movement was about–the deliberate sexual harassment and the shamed silence of the victims in order to remain employed in the workplace–Concha exhibits his characteristic rearrangement of facts to declare Toobin had cast himself as the victim in this situation.
Toobin had done no such thing. Toobin accepted responsibility and apologized.
But the greatest hypocrisy of Kelly and Concha is their silence about another comeback announced this week: that of Kelly’s former coworker and Concha’s mentor Bill O’Reilly, who has been damned to a podcast from his basement after being the top-rated prime time host on Fox News (where he frequently hosted Concha), announced that he will undertake a series of speaking engagements with Donald Trump (another accused sexual abuser).
O’Reilly lost his primetime gig after multiple women came forward accusing him of sexual harassment, including masturbating on a phone call with a staff member. This occurred after O’Reilly was accused of having an affair with his producer, and once that ended, harassing and stalking her. That affair ended with Fox News paying millions in a settlement with O’Reilly’s victim.
But the affair happened before O’Reilly was accused by his own daughter of abusing his soon-to-be ex-wife, pulling her hair and throwing her down a flight of stairs.
Where were Concha and Kelly when all those accusations about O’Reilly became public? On the same soundstage gleefully bantering with the sexual offender.
Not only was O’Reilly not fired after all those incidents became public, he made millions when he was ultimately dismissed from Fox News. Toobin got no such settlement.
Toobin apologized. O’Reilly never did, for any of it.
Toobin took responsibility. O’Reilly never did, opting to blame his multiple victims (as well as “liberals” he claimed tried to smear him).
But Toobin, in their world, is the one that must be shunned. O’Reilly’s undertaking a speaking tour with a former president is something to be publicized, not condemned.