By now, it seems fair to assume that you are aware of the Zoom Dick Incident, in which New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin reportedly took out his penis on a video call with his colleagues, later saying he “thought no one on the Zoom … could see” him. The details of the ZDI accumulated on Motherboard over the course of hours, each one so screamingly odd that it felt almost like piling on. There’s the meat of the scandal, yes, but have you considered the setting? An “election simulation” in which Toobin played “the courts” — all of the courts! — sharing the marquee with some of The New Yorker’s “biggest stars.”
Well, naturally I need to know everything about this. Particularly because I am having a hard time envisioning the “election simulation” described here, and it appears I’m not the only one.
It’s possible that “election simulation” merely means The New Yorker gaming out potential scenarios for hypothetical election outcomes: If Joe Biden wins but Republicans take the Senate, then X; if Trump wins but Democrats control Congress, then Y. But as Motherboard points out, WNYC employees were also on the call, leading me to believe that this little Rollenspiel may have been intended for The New Yorker Radio Hour, a WNYC Studios production. In that context, an election simulation begins to look more like radio theater — like model U.N. for our government landscape, or political LARPing. Please, spare a moment for the casting:
Jane Mayer was playing establishment Republicans; Evan Osnos was Joe Biden, Jelani Cobb was establishment Democrats, Masha Gessen played Donald Trump, Andrew Marantz was the far right, Sue Halpern was left wing democrats, Dexter Filkins was the military, and Jeffrey Toobin playing the courts.
According to Motherboard, there was also a mock strategy session, during which Democrats and Republicans receded to their respective “breakout rooms.” Toobin allegedly started masturbating during this ten-minute interlude, possibly on what he thought was a separate video call.
It is only natural to have questions in the face of so much unsquarable information. I, for example, wonder how The New Yorker designated these writers their roles, or if everyone got to pick their own part? Was participation compulsory, or did they volunteer? Why was Masha Gessen Trump? Why not let a couple different people be the whole military, at least one per branch? Just what was so horny about this simulacrum of democracy? Who, if anyone, ultimately told Toobin to put away his penis?
Unfortunately, we may never know the full truth. But, according to Motherboard, the simulation continued after the ZDI, suggesting that somewhere, a recording of the whole bit exists. Petition to release the tape, please! Permission to edit it a little bit first.