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Facebook employees melt down because company VP sat behind friend Kavanaugh at hearing

Image source: ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images

A Facebook executive has apologized after his appearance at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford caused "outrage" among employees, according to The New York Times.

Joel Kaplan, Facebook's vice president for global public policy, sat behind Kavanaugh during the hearing; the two are friends. Many employees, however, interpreted Kaplan's support for his friend as offensive to women and sexual assault victims.

"Let's assume for a minute that our VP of Policy understands how Senate hearings work," one employee wrote in an internal post. "His seat choice was intentional, knowing full well that journalists would identify every public figure appearing behind Kavanaugh. He knew this would cause outrage internally, but he knew that he couldn't get fired for it. This was a protest against our culture, and a slap in the face to his fellow employees."

Why was Kaplan at the hearing?

Kaplan is a former Marine who also clerked for two conservative justices in the past. He has been friends with the Kavanaughs for quite some time.

"I have known Brett and Ashley Kavanaugh for 20 years," Kaplan wrote in a note. "They are my and my wife Laura's closest friends in D.C. I was in their wedding; he was in ours. Our kids have grown up together."

Despite the fact that he was simply supporting a friend, not making a political statement or widely dismissing sexual assault victims, Kaplan apologized.

"I want to apologize," Kaplan wrote in a note to Facebook staff. "I recognize this moment is a deeply painful one — internally and externally."

Did anyone defend him?

CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the staff that Kaplan broke no company rules by attending the hearing, saying Kaplan had a right to make a personal decision to attend and he still trusted his VP's judgment.

Some employees, according to The New York Times, said Zuckerberg's comments caused "stress and trauma" because it seemed like Zuckerberg was shrugging off Ford's testimony.

Veteran Facebook employee Andrew Bosworth said employees need to choose paths in life even if they differ from the company they work for — and was quickly pushed to apologize after an uproar.

"If you need to change teams, companies or careers to make sure your day-to-day life matches your passions, we will be sad to see you go, but we will understand," Bosworth wrote in an internal post. "We will support you with any path you choose. But it is your responsibility to choose a path, not that of the company you work for.

The next day Bosworth walked back his comment and said he made a "big mistake" by speaking up and that he was sorry he "caused employees pain and frustration."

The company has scheduled a meeting for Friday to give employees a chance to address their concerns about Kaplan's attendance at the hearing.

One last thing…
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