I thought I had seen just about everything on Zoom calls, but this story demonstrated conclusively that I had not.
The New York Times published a story on October 19th reporting that The New Yorker stated that it had suspended 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.
According to Vice, which first reported the incident (and more explicitly), staff writers at The New Yorker and employees from WNYC, which jointly produce the magazine’s podcast, were on a video call prepping for election night coverage.
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.
Asked 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.”
A spokeswoman for The New Yorker, where Mr. Toobin has worked for more than 25 years, said in a statement that Mr. Toobin “has been suspended while we investigate the matter.”
Masha Gessen, a New Yorker writer who was on the call, said “I am quite sure that Toobin didn’t realize that the people on the New Yorker call could see him. 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.”
When the incident occurred, participants continued the call as though nothing was wrong and when Toobin rejoined the call, he appeared unaware of what had happened.
Mr. Toobin is also a senior legal analyst for CNN. CNN 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.”
Toobin is certainly not a stupid man. But like so many other embarrassing incidents we have seen (others also including nudity), people are either not aware of what is going on with the technology or they simply forget that they are on camera. The best advice is, when on a video conference call, do nothing that your mom would disapprove of.
Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., President, Sensei Enterprises, Inc.
3975 University Drive, Suite 225|Fairfax, VA 22030
Email: email@example.com Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology