The New Yorker said on Monday that it had suspended the staff writer Jeffrey Toobin after he exposed himself during a Zoom call last week with employees of the magazine and WNYC radio, according to two people familiar with the call.
Staff writers at The New Yorker and employees from WNYC, which jointly produce the magazine’s podcast, were on a joint video call prepping for election night coverage, according to Vice, which first reported the episode. During a pause in the call for breakout discussions, Mr. Toobin switched to a second call that was the video-call equivalent of phone sex, according to the two people familiar with the call, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Asked Monday afternoon about reports that he had exposed himself, Mr. Toobin said in a statement: “I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers.”
“I thought I had muted the Zoom video,” he added. “I thought no one on the Zoom call could see me.”
When asked by email on Monday evening about the nature of the second call, Mr. Toobin, 60, declined to comment further.
Participants on the New Yorker/WNYC call played roles simulating what might happen on election night. Mr. Toobin played the role of the courts. Masha Gessen, a New Yorker writer, played President Trump.
“I am quite sure that Toobin didn’t realize that the people on The New Yorker call could see him,” Mx. Gessen said in an interview. “I suspect he thought that when the breakout rooms started, he was disconnected and he didn’t realize we’d all returned to a live camera.”
All the while, participants continued as if nothing were wrong, one person on the call said. When Mr. Toobin rejoined, he was unaware of what had just happened, this person said.
Mr. Toobin is also a senior legal analyst for CNN. The network said in a statement that Mr. Toobin, who has worked for CNN since 2002, “has asked for some time off while he deals with a personal issue, which we have granted.”
Mr. Toobin is the author of nine books, including “The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court,” “The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court” and “Too Close to Call.” His book “The Run of His Life” was adapted for television as the FX series “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson.”
Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.