CNN’s conservative commentator Mary Katharine Ham published an article on Thursday informing her followers that the network had quietly suspended her.
Ham says she learned in July that previous CNN management benched her for tweeting in January about then-network analyst Jeffrey Toobin. For a reminder, Toobin mistakenly left his Zoom camera on as he masturbated in front of colleagues in 2020.
Ham referenced Toobin in a Twitter dispute with fellow CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski over the network’s coverage of the 2017 Congressional baseball shooting:
CNN did not punish Ham — or Kaczynski — for criticizing each other on social media, a violation of policy at various media companies. Rather, CNN only wanted its employees to steer clear of criticizing one particular co-worker: The Zoom Call Masturbator.
However, Ham did not get the memo Toobin was off-limits. She explains:
I’m told, ‘when it got to the comments about Jeffrey Toobin…everyone wanted a bit of a breather.’
Well, everyone but me, who had no idea there was a breather in effect. I was never informed of my punishment until it was rescinded recently by new management. 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.
Ham’s secret suspension lasted seven months, from January to July. By comparison, CNN suspended Toobin for eight months for his video call transgression.
Jerking off on Zoom — in front of colleagues — is only one month more severe than tweeting about someone jerking off on a Zoom call — in front of colleagues. At least that was the case at CNN.
Former CNN head Jeff Zucker made the decision to bench Ham. He also summoned a stooge to keep producers from knowing why the network did not allow them to book her for the time being.
The lack of transparency led staffers to assume the worst. Ham writes:
… many of my colleagues no doubt knew about my banning from air, but not the reasons behind it, thereby leaving the impression I must have done something tantamount to Toobining. I did not.
I was told it was Jeff Zucker, now gone, who put this order in place and a deputy, also gone, who kept it there. I was also told I wasn’t informed of the network’s displeasure because I had just had a baby and someone in the old leadership thought I might be a “loose cannon.” Not as loose as Toobin’s, but I digress.
CNN has allowed Ham back on-air since July. But she has not appeared. She explains that she could not return as if nothing happened, even under new management.
Ham says she could not stay silent about CNN silencing her:
To that end, I thought hard about how I should behave in this situation. I have not been asked to leave CNN. In fact, I’ve been invited back by the new guard to do the job I was prevented from doing by the old guard. Clean slate, as if nothing happened. But something did happen.
I have never been great at being quiet, and it’s not in my nature to start. So, that’s where I’ve been. I determined it was impossible for me to come back without saying why I’d been gone.
CNN claims it didn’t inform Ham of her discipline because of “her postpartum state.” More likely, the network feared further humiliation should a reporter learn that it punished someone for tweeting about their masturbating colleague.
The network kept this under wraps to protect, not Ham, but itself.
So, credit Ham for publishing this with her name on it. She did not leak the story as an anonymous source to a friendly outlet. Ham instead exposed her employer herself, opening herself up to the risks that come with that.
Even under new management, it takes courage to embarrass your employer while still under contract.
The story further proves the disaster that Jeff Zucker became. He irreparably damaged the credibility of CNN by elevating shysters like Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo. The ratings tanked in every time slot under Zucker’s leadership. CNN has still not recovered from his reign.
Even worse, we now know Zucker punished an employee on behalf of Mr. Zoom Call Masturbator. Pathetic.