You Do Not, In Any Way Shape or Form, Have to Hand It to Jeffrey Toobin

Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

Related Post Roulette

17 Responses

  1. I’m not Very Online and until I read this OP, I hadn’t heard of Mr. Toobin or the incident. Assuming everything is as you present it, I’m only 90% on board with what you say, and not 100%.

    The reasons for the 10%:

    #1: Mr. Toobin being “sidelined at a pivotal moment”: I interpret that not as meaning that we, the dear public, are deprived of whatever special and incisive insights he supposedly has to offer. Rather, I interpret it as, “he makes his bread and butter off of commentary on elections and such and now he’ll have to sit out this particular cycle.” I.e., it’s a “pivotal moment” for him, not for us.

    #2. You take to task someone for mentioning Mr. Toobin’s fathering child with “his mistress,” but you’re actually agreeing with that someone. The point from that someone was that Mr. Toobin has done much, much worse, and yet people are criticizing him for doing some not quite as bad.

    #3. I really do think there’s something not entirely right with the mockery here. (By “here” I mean “in general,” and not necessarily your OP.) One reason is that I don’t like piling on, no matter how poor the judgment of the target. (To be clear, that’s true of me except when it isn’t. I choose to indulge in Schadenfreude and out and out mockery in other circumstances.) Another reason is because I have very complicated feelings about how sex, etc., is joked about and discussed.

    To be clear, even though I spent 90% of this comment talking about my 10% disagreement with your post, rest assured that I do 90% agree with your post.Report

  2. CJColucci says:

    Toobin will get reinstated after producing a detailed profile of Rudy Giuliani.Report

  3. I would also like to point out that while this doesn’t ~appear~ to have been true in this case, a fair number of individuals get off (literally) on exhibitionism and “accidentally” getting caught in circumstances like this because they can trick someone into looking. It is rightfully deemed sexual assault.Report

    • Yeah, I assumed for the sake of argument that this was inadvertent. That obviously changes if it was deliberate. But I’m dubious since, if it were, this would be unlikely to have bene the first time and we’d probably have people coming out of the woodwork saying, “Oh, yeah, he does this.”Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    At the beginning of the pandemic, the whole “spouse walking through the meeting” joke was big. Remember this from back in March? Ah, good times.

    (I can kinda understand people comparing what Toobin did to what any number of spouses have done… specifically “not knowing they were on camera”.)

    I know that my immediate response to hearing Toobin do that was to make a “Who among us?” joke and, before the thought was even complete in my head, to make a “I’M MAKING A LIST OF THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE WHO AMONG US JOKES” joke and then to make a joke about that.

    One of the takes that I’ve seen a handful of people provide is the whole “Man, I wish I had a job where *I* could jerk off on the clock!” and the point is that Toobin should get fired for stealing from his employer.

    The takes that involve “this isn’t about what Toobin did but what he made his fellow employees *WITNESS*” strike me as being the appropriate takes because, if harm was done, it was done to his fellow employees. The easy and obvious counter-argument is “well, he didn’t intend to do harm and mens rea is important!” and, I suppose I can see where that’s coming from… but, despite his intentions, he harmed his fellow employees. “Sexual Assault” I think is the legal term for what he did and while I can easily imagine some arguing, Whoopi-style, that it wasn’t Sexual Assault Sexual Assault, the harm was done anyway.

    The folks who argue that he needs to be given a pass tend to elide the harm that was done… as if the only harm done was to Toobin and his own reputation. But that argument ignores the harm done to others. “Oh, it was only a small thing.” Big laugh.

    But the harm was done and while not noticing it in the first place is kinda narcissistic, deliberately ignoring it after the fact is doing some weird normalization of harm done to others.Report

  5. Pinky says:

    Two questions:

    Does anyone think this story would have disappeared if he wasn’t a previously-known scumbag?

    Do you think the average viewer could watch his analysis from his home, on an isolated sound stage, or in any situation other than standing up, wearing pants, with his hands visible, and take him seriously?Report

  6. Oscar Gordon says:

    I agree with the take in the OP and I am frankly unsurprised by the reactions of his peers/wanna-be peers. This is, as Jaybird mention, a case partly of “Who here among us.”, and partly a case of the media circling the wagons.

    The circling of the wagons is, to me, a clear indicator that said person is seen as a member of some elite, and that class of elite are moving to shield themselves from the criticism they deserve, because the elite can not suffer such criticism. We see this with politicians, with corporate leaders, with police, and now with the media.

    Once the wagons start to circle, we should no longer trust these people. They demonstrate their untrustworthiness by their defense of bad behavior of one of their own.Report

  7. Reformed Republican says:

    “Toobin, during a break in the proceedings, was seen naked and … uh … rapidly hitting the refresh button.”

    Ah, the classic Ross Geller “We were on a break!” defense.Report

  8. Jaybird says:

    Have you ever read Harvey Weinstein’s statement from 2017? Pretty Interesting!

    I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.

    I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office – or out of it. To anyone.

    I realized some time ago that I needed to be a better person and my interactions with the people I work with have changed.

    I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it.

    Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go. That is my commitment. My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons. Over the last year I’ve asked Lisa Bloom to tutor me and she’s put together a team of people. I’ve brought on therapists and I plan to take a leave of absence from my company and to deal with this issue head on. I so respect all women and regret what happened. I hope that my actions will speak louder than words and that one day we will all be able to earn their trust and sit down together with Lisa to learn more. Jay Z wrote in 4:44 “I’m not the man I thought I was and I better be that man for my children.” The same is true for me. I want a second chance in the community but I know I’ve got work to do to earn it. I have goals that are now priorities. Trust me, this isn’t an overnight process. I’ve been trying to do this for 10 years and this is a wake-up call. I cannot be more remorseful about the people I hurt and I plan to do right by all of them.

    I am going to need a place to channel that anger so I’ve decided that I’m going to give the NRA my full attention. I hope Wayne LaPierre will enjoy his retirement party. I’m going to do it at the same place I had my Bar Mitzvah. I’m making a movie about our President, perhaps we can make it a joint retirement party. One year ago, I began organizing a $5 million foundation to give scholarships to women directors at USC. While this might seem coincidental, it has been in the works for a year. It will be named after my mom and I won’t disappoint her.

    That thing at the end there? Hey, give me a pass and I will put all of my energy into taking on the NRA?

    I am wondering what Toobin will offer.Report

    • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

      I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.

      Ah, the 60s and 70s. More innocent times, when there weren’t *checks note* people protesting in the streets about feminism. Right?

      Incidentally, ‘coming of age’ is doing a lot of work there. Harvey Weinstein first started distributing files in the 80s, (Which was mostly just buy and reselling film, often foreign ones), but actually started _making_ films (Aka, got in an actual position of power over actresses.) in the 90s.

      It’s not like we’d had any sort of society-wide discussion about sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual advances by powerful men in positions of authority right at the start of the 90s.

      Except, of course, that was exactly what happened exactly at that time, with Clarance Thomas’s nomination, which literally started third-wave feminism. And Bill Clinton’s behavior.

      Before anyone says ‘But we didn’t do anything about this’. No, but…we as a society had staked out positions at that point, even if we then ignored them for political reasons.

      Aka, Harvey Weinstein started producing movies and requiring women to sleep with him for roles or he’d destroy them in the film community while we were having a society-wide discussion on powerful men doing exactly that with their underlings and how it was utterly inappropriate and illegal and pretty rapey.Report

      • CJColucci in reply to DavidTC says:

        I went to college with Harvey Weinstein. The “rules” weren’t different then. They weren’t taken as seriously then as they are now, but even then using your position to get sex from people who depended on your favor was considered sleazy behavior. Nobody who knew Harvey then would have been the least bit surprised at his behavior, though many of us were surprised by his success and the opportunities it gave him.Report

  9. Damon says:

    Let’s see…I’ve been working from home for 8 months. I’ve never had this problem. 1) We only just recently installed video capability, 2) Long ago, I taped over my laptop camera. WHY IS THIS SO HARD to figure out? Shesh…log off, or disconnection the internet connection, etc. and rub one out. Then log back in.Report

    • Reformed Republican in reply to Damon says:

      My wife and I are taking classes online. You can buy nice little sliding covers that stick on over the camera, making it very easy to cover and uncover the camera when needed. We got a nice screen to put up behind the computers so that we do not have to worry about anybody walking into the frame. I make sure that I am not wearing anything that would be inappropriate if I happen to stand up while on camera (even if it’s not work appropriate, nothing personal hangs out). I never felt the need to rub one out during class, and I cannot imagine a meeting so long that I could not wait until it ended either. It’s one reason I have trouble believing this was entirely accidental.Report

  10. y10nerd says:

    This isn’t difficult! Want to masturbate? Go to the bedroom or couch or move away from your fucking cameras.


  11. Jaybird says:

    He announces:


  1. November 19, 2020

    […] put a stop to it. Even mortally wounded, and surely knowing the end was near, these pants managed to prevent a Toobin situation and, other than a chilly fall day draft and a few stray looks, bore their final hours with […]Report