A Look Behind the Scenes at Jeffrey Toobin’s Press Conference


Photo by Erica Highhouse

When I was asked to  cover the press conference of famed lawyer turned journalist Jeffrey Toobin, who spoke at Moravian in late October, I did not have a preconception for what it was going to be.

Being involved and interested in journalism for years had made me  excited to experience a real press conference. Granted, it was not full-fledged and televised, but it still was a legitimate press conference.

I had not heard of Jeffrey Toobin. But after doing a bit of research, I realized that I was going to be in the presence of a real political celebrity.

Toobin attended Harvard Law School and has been a legal analyst for CNN since 2002. He has written many award-winning books dealing with the political world, including American Heiress, about Patty Hearst, and The Run of His Life: The People Vs O.J. Simpson, which was made into a popular miniseries on FX.

Toobin has also covered some of the most famous and controversial stories in recent years, including Michael Jackson’s 2005 child molestation trial and the Starr investigation of President Clinton.

On the day of Toobin’s visit, I walked into the seminar room where the press conference was taking place about half an hour early, so I could be prepared and settled for when Toobin made his appearance.


When I entered the room, there was a woman sitting at a table named Nina, who immediately knew who I was, despite my not knowing  her. Nina — who I later found out is Toobin’s assistant —  cheerfully greeted me, asked how to spell my name and what organization I was from, then gave me a name plate and told me to sit down in the front of the room.

A name plate! I was shocked at how professional this all was, and I found myself becoming more nervous. I sat down right in front of where Toobin was to be, anxiously awaiting the start of the press conference.

More and more people began to file into the relatively small room, and I noticed that I was the youngest person there — and the only one with a laptop to take notes on instead of a pad and pencil.

Right on time, Jeffrey Toobin walked in. He smiled at me and shook my hand, asking for my name. He made small talk with me and another journalist from a different college. We were the only people under 40 there.

Toobin was calm and relaxed, and he spoke with a pleasant and attentive tone of voice. He was wearing a navy suit and a large, gold watch that looked to cost  as much as a semester of my tuition.

He began the conference by thanking us all for being there, especially the “young journalists.” He jumped right in and asked for questions.

The whole event lasted for only half an hour, I suppose because Toobin was on a tight schedule. Nina kept track of the time and reminded him about half a dozen times that “this is the last question we have time for!”

The professional journalists in the audience asked questions about political topics I know little about, honestly. The Supreme Court and the recent Presidential election were the most popular topics.

Near the end of the conference, the conversation switched to Toobin’s college experience, which was of interest to me. Being a relatively new college student myself, I was intrigued to hear what a person as successful as Toobin had to say about.  

“I don’t think it matters at all what you study in college. I think you should study what you’re interested in,” he said. “I was an American history and literature major. I wrote my senior thesis on the American Revolution and Samuel Adams. Does it have a practical impact on my life or my job? Not really, but I feel like I live a richer life [because of it].”

Toobin also touched upon what he believed to be the most important issue that young voters should keep at the forefront of their thinking: climate change and global warming.

“It makes every other issue looks trivial. We have an entire political party that believes that it doesn’t exist,” he explained.

When all the questions were answered and there were no more hands being raised, Toobin thanked us. The Comenian’s photographer, Erica, then asked if she could take some photos, which he agreed to wholeheartedly. He shook my hand again before he was led out of the room by what seemed to be security guards.

The Jeffrey Toobin press conference was a memorable experience and I am fortunate that I got the opportunity to attend it. The whole experience opened my eyes to what being a journalist is really like, and made me want to continue that career path even more. It made me feel professional and was a chance to show my skills as an upcoming journalist and professional writer.