In an age where everyone is talking about ‘quiet quitting,’ CNN commentator Mary Katharine Ham believes she was ‘silently suspended’ from the network after she tweeted about its coverage of the 2017 Congressional baseball game shooting and its handling of former chief legal analyst Jeffry Toobin.
After not being on the air for seven months (some of which coincided with her maternity leave), Ham said she finally learned it was an intentional sidelining. She recently detailed what happened in an article on Substack titled In the Age of Quiet Quitting, I Was Quiet Suspended, And I Can’t Shut Up About It, and she joined Megyn on Friday’s show to break it all down.
The Twitter Storm
Though she didn’t know it at the time, Ham said that the quiet suspension began in January after she got into a back-and-forth with CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski. The pair traded tweets about the network’s coverage of the 2017 Congressional baseball shooting compared to January 6 and the 2011 shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), in addition to its action – or lack thereof – against Toobin after he was caught masterbating on a Zoom call with colleagues at The New Yorker.
The tweet that kicked off the entire controversy came when Ham retweeted New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s reaction to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis saying the left covers January 6 differently because it involves the right:
“The violence double standard is one that really sticks in my old craw, so I bring it up every now and then,” Ham told Megyn. “I tweeted what I thought was calm and factual about our [CNN] coverage… a colleague of mine [Kaczynski] came back at me about it, and we had an argument about it.”
The “argument” started when Kaczynski jumped in and said that CNN did cover the 2017 shooting, with Ham participating in the coverage:
While Ham admitted that it’s generally not advisable to criticize the outlet you work for, she said her initial take on CNN wasn’t necessarily the problem. “It’s my job to comment on media coverage, on national stories, and sometimes that is going to fall afoul of the organization you’re working for,” she acknowledged. “That’s always going to be a weird situation, so I try to keep it above board.”
What apparently did her in, however, was mentioning Toobin. “In that discussion, I brought up Toobin, who was still an employee of the network,” Ham explained. “This is under the [Jeff] Zucker regime, not the new one.” At one point during her exchange with Kaczynski, Ham questioned what she seemed to believe was his selective outrage:
And she finished it off with this:
Mentioning Toobin was a bridge too far for CNN. “It was deemed not appropriate,” Ham shared. “I knew that it was possible that it was not appropriate under the rules of sort of avoiding shooting inside the tent, however, I rejected the idea that I have to stay silent about this obviously egregious conduct and just move on.”
The Silent Suspension
The Twitter exchange between Ham and Kaczynski wrapped up on January 7. Ham did not hear from CNN again until July. That’s a seven-month hiatus. For perspective, Toobin received an eight-month suspension for his actions. “So, you got a seven month suspension for making a comment about Jeffrey Toonbin, and Jeffrey Toobin got an eight-month suspension for actually Toobin-ing,” Megyn quipped.
To make matters worse, Ham didn’t actually know she was being disciplined. “I will take the punishment, but I would prefer to be told about the punishment,” she said. Needless to say, she had her suspicions about why she hadn’t been on the air, but she had no proof until recently. “Someone called me to tell me,” she said. “I was informed that I wasn’t informed because I was on maternity leave and they wanted me to, like, be with my baby.”
At that point, Ham believed she had a decision to make. Because both Zucker and Toobin were no longer at CNN, she “could let it lie” or she could speak out. “My options are: I’m under contract, I can go back and do my job with a smile on my face – that didn’t feel right,” she said. “I could negotiate myself out of it quietly… or I could not be quiet.” She opted for the latter “because I think it’s the right thing to do.”
The Double Standard
For the sake of her daughters and young women hoping to work in the industry, Ham said she couldn’t just pretend nothing happened. “As a woman in media, I have been asked to comment on every errant penis in the media industry – and there are so many – 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,” she said. “And 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. I reject that this is the one penis that I’m not allowed to talk about.”
Megyn questioned how Toobin was even allowed to get away with his actions to begin with. “Forgive me for going X-rated, but picture this… if a woman dropped trow and her underwear and started masturbating on a Zoom call for The New Yorker, she would never work again in the news business – ever,” she said. “She would never ever be taken seriously.” Ham agreed that her career would have been over. “I wouldn’t have been rehabilitated from something like this,” she noted. “I would have been relocated to an Only Fans page.”
Ultimately, Ham said she simply wishes CNN would have been more upfront about the reality of the situation. “Look, we work in live TV, we all are on Twitter, you’re gonna say stuff,” she concluded. “I can take my lumps, but you have to tell me about it… just tell me about it.”
You can check out Megyn’s full conversation with Ham by tuning in to episode 417 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.