The media industry and CNN viewers were stunned Thursday when legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin returned for the first time since his Zoom masturbation incident in October, raising questions about standards and accountability in the liberal network.
Toobin, who was fired quickly from The New Yorker last year after exposing himself to the video conferencing service, will receive a second chance from CNN, where he has been an analyst for nearly 20 years. Toobin̵
“Liberals can say and do anything on CNN without being fired,” Independent Women’s Voice senior political analyst Kelsey Bolar told Fox News.
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“As a belief in forgiveness and redemption, I do not support the ‘cancellation’ of Jeffrey Toobin for good. After committing this heinous act and being notorious for it, there are undoubtedly hundreds, if not thousands, of better qualified candidates for the role of a public figure. turned CNN legal analyst, “Bolar said.” It says a lot about the network’s values that it would choose to reconstruct a man who masturbated during a Zoom call in front of his colleagues – would the same thing happen if it was a woman? Or if his name was Rick Santorum? Of course not. “
Santorum lost its job last month as the network’s symbolic Republican for telling a conservative crowd that immigrants had created a nation “out of nothing” based on Judeo-Christian values. The Republican political commentator was shown the door over comments that offended some liberals, while Toobin and Cuomo have retained their jobs despite embarrassing CNN with their behavior.
Industry observers felt Cuomo was safe at all times, as he is the most-watched host on the ratings-challenged network, and CNN had already stood by him in the middle of a laundry over scandals over the past year. But Toobin’s return caught people on guard.
“There are plenty of other options that Toobin could pursue where CNN staff and viewers would not be exposed to memories of his rude and dishonest actions. But maybe we should not be surprised,” Bolar said. “We all knew that Jeffery Toobin was too obsessed with stroking his own ego to ever leave television for good. And apparently CNN’s standards are so high that even a Zoom onanator can do it back.”
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Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson felt the situations were different and the retention of Cuomo was more shocking.
“Toobin’s behavior was not at CNN, much less in the air at CNN. In contrast, Chris Cuomo has repeatedly embarrassed CNN in the air by not keeping a professional distance from his brother the governor, while also acting as an uninformed adviser. That “CNN tolerates Chris Cuomo’s journalistic misconduct is anger here, not that CNN cut a break for a guy who had a personal problem with another employer,” Jacobson told Fox News.
In fact, Toobin was caught masturbating during a Zoom call with his colleagues from The New Yorker, not his peers from CNN. But Santorum was preserved over comments he made to the Young America’s Foundation, not on CNN.
University of North Carolina ethics guru Lois Boynton said there have been several staff incidents on CNN that question how the network determines discipline for misguided employees.
“Disagreements over how organizations appear to reprimand public servants could raise eyebrows and diminish confidence,” Boynton told Fox News, noting that CNN does not have to explain why it kept Toobin around, but the decision has implications.
“While a high-profile organization does not have to share details about its staffing procedures, it needs to be aware of public perception and how these perceptions affect public trust and loyalty,” she said.
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CNN’s own media reporters noted network anchors and hosts wanted Toobin to return, while others have reported that friends of the troubled legal analyst lobbied CNN President Jeff Zucker to give him another chance. Some joked that Toobin should “have something” on Zucker, but Grabien Media founder Tom Elliott correctly predicted the outcome months ago.
“Any normal company would have fired Toobin about 12 seconds after this incident. I do not expect CNN ever to,” Elliott told Fox News when the incident first occurred.
Elliott explained his thought process when he reached for a follow-up comment Thursday.
“CNN viewers are already well aware that the network only pretends to have standards when their conservative contributors are under fire. Jeffrey Lord relied on mocking a Nazi slogan during a Twitter exchange and was immediately sent off. Santorum made a comment, “CNN did not seem to understand, and he was also released,” Elliott told Fox News. “These are absolutely nothing compared to what Cuomo and Toobin were caught doing.”
Grabien Media founder said it all boils down to politics.
“Obviously, we know why these personalities are treated differently. CNN considers journalism an additional concern; its main focus is to serve as the PR wing of the Democratic Party,” Elliott said.
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NewsBusters CEO Curtis Houck agreed that the partisan network would not dry up its reputation as a prominent liberal.
“CNN only revealed itself further to have an aversion to ethics, decency and journalistic principles by having Jeffrey Toobin back. Add in the Chris Cuomo scandal and even minor incidents from before like Anderson Cooper’s Twitter account and you have a Jeffrey Zucker “led operation that will circulate the wagons to protect their own at all costs,” Houck told Fox News.
DePauw University professor and media critic Jeffrey McCall told Fox News that “CNN’s standards of accountability have been difficult to assess” and decisions made by the network regarding Cuomo and Toobin have been confusing as the organization has seen a sharp drop in ratings.
“It seems that CNN should focus mostly on accountability for the ratings of its shows. Even by this year’s rating standards, the channel is struggling to find viewers,” McCall told Fox News. “CNN should do a soul-searching to find out why viewers have gone out and hold decision-makers in the air and in the air responsible for the bad reviews.”
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Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.