A CNN commentator who said the cable network kept her off the air because of a tweet criticizing its handling of the Jeffrey Toobin public masturbation scandal said she “rejects” that “this is the one penis I’m not allowed to talk about.”
“As a woman in media, I have been asked to comment on every errant penis in the media industry, and there are so many,” Mary Katharine Ham told Kelly, the former Fox News anchor and current host of the SiriusXM podcast “The Megyn Kelly Show.”
Ham didn’t name names, but was referring to big media moguls who have become ensnared in sexual misconduct scandals such as Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose, according to a source close to the show.
“For the past five years, sometimes to the exclusion of all the other things I’d like to talk about like tax policy, health policy, and foreign policy, yet I do it because it’s the right thing to do, even though it can be a little humiliating to be on TV talking about nothing but errant penises of your colleagues,” Ham said in the Friday interview.
She added of Toobin: “I reject that this is the one penis that I’m not allowed to talk about.”
Kelly agreed with Ham’s assessment that if a woman was caught pleasuring herself in public as Toobin was, it would have meant the end of her career.
“I wouldn’t have been rehabilitated from something like this…I would not have a career after that…” Ham told Kelly.
Earlier this month, Ham wrote a blog entry on her Substack page in which she alleged that CNN’s then-president, Jeff Zucker, kept her off the air for months without her being informed that she was punished over a tense Twitter exchange with a network colleague.
Ham, who was contributed to news outlets such as Townhall Magazine and The Federalist and has made guest-hosting appearances on ABC’s “The View,” expressed anger that her suspension was similar in scope to the one handed down to Toobin.
She wrote that she was astounded to have recently discovered that she was kept off the air after she engaged in a Twitter spat with a CNN colleague, Andrew Kaczynski, in January.
The brouhaha started when Ham responded to New York Times correspondent Maggie Haberman’s tweet disputing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ argument that the media didn’t sufficiently cover the 2017 shootings of Republican lawmakers playing a baseball game.
Ham claimed that a shooting targeting Democrats would garner substantially more attention from the press.
When Kaczynski objected, Ham responded that her CNN colleague “got jack to say about Cuomo and Toobin, but gotta fact-check me when he’s got nothing.”
Ham then posted a tweet noting that Toobin “jacked off in front of female colleagues” while Cuomo “violated every conflict of interest rule in journalism, lied about it, and got fired.”
According to Ham, her implicit criticism of CNN management’s handling of the Toobin affair prompted then-network head honcho Zucker to keep her off the air for seven months.
“I suppose some might reasonably conclude that critiquing CNN’s coverage in a factual and calm tweet, or arguing with Kaczynski, could have spurred some disciplinary action, as it violates the rule against ‘shooting inside the tent’ among colleagues,” Ham wrote.
“But it turns out that didn’t do me in.”
“Rather, I’m told, ‘when it got to the comments about Jeffrey Toobin … everyone wanted a bit of a breather,’” Ham wrote.
Ham noted that her seven-month ban was almost as lengthy a penalty as Toobin received for his Zoom mishap.
“One month was the difference between punishment for jacking off at work versus commenting on the inadvisability of jacking off at work,” Ham wrote in her blog.
She then wrote that nobody bothered to inform her that she was disciplined until she recently met with Zucker’s successor, Chris Licht, who offered her an opportunity to return to the network.
“I was never informed of my punishment until it was rescinded recently by new management,” Ham wrote.
“No one called me or my representation about it.”
“There was no announcement of a suspension, or notification of in-house disciplinary action, which I would have preferred, even welcomed by comparison to serving a secret sentence,” she wrote.
The Post has sought comment from CNN.
In October 2020, Toobin, who at the time was a writer for the New Yorker in addition to his duties as a CNN analyst, was caught pleasuring himself during a Zoom work meeting that included senior editors of the magazine.
The episode led to Toobin’s firing from the New Yorker as well as an eight-month suspension from CNN.
He would eventually return to CNN after appearing on the network’s air and making an awkward apology during an unusual interview with anchor Alisyn Camerota.
In August, Toobin announced that he would be leaving the network.
Cuomo, the former host of “Cuomo Prime Time,” was widely criticized for his gushing interview sessions with his brother, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
Zucker would eventually fire Chris Cuomo after it was learned that he helped his embattled older brother craft communications and political strategy in the face of a wave of sexual harassment allegations that eventually forced him to leave the governor’s mansion.