paying off

A Washington Post report titled ‘Jeffrey Toobin went ballistic about Trump and Comey. It was great TV.’ says ‘Without need for a Google search, Toobin reached back for historical context: He hadn’t seen anything like this since 1973, when President Nixon fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. That, he noted, was a key factor leading to Nixon’s resignation.
Toobin was critical, knowledgeable and sure-footed. For once, CNN’s pundit-heavy staff was paying off instead of embarrassing itself.’
I wonder what ‘paying off’ means here, can you explain for me?Thanks.

‘Pay off’ with an object means that you have paid your debt/the money you owe as in -

Now that we have paid off all our bills, we can see how much money we actually have.

‘Pay off’ in your sentence without an object means that something has been worthwhile/worth doing/been successful as in -

All the hard work you did in preparation has paid off as you have now passed all your emanations.