A top Facebook executive’s show of support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has caused a rift within the company, angering employees and forcing its leaders to put some distance between Facebook and its own head of public policy, according to a New York Times report.
The Times reported Thursday that Joel Kaplan apologized last week after appearing behind Kavanaugh at an emotional confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The two are close friends who worked alongside each other in the George W. Bush White House.
“I want to apologize,” Kaplan wrote in a note to employees. “I recognize this moment is a deeply painful one — internally and externally.”
Employees had taken to internal message boards to express anger over Kaplan’s appearance at the emotionally fraught hearing, which saw Christine Blasey Ford testify about her allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s, and targeted other executives for seemingly brushing off their concerns.
“Let’s assume for a minute that our VP of Policy understands how senate hearings work,” a program manager wrote on an internal message board, according to the Times. “His seat choice was intentional, knowing full well that journalists would identify every public figure appearing behind Kavanaugh. He knew that 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.”
The rifts come as Facebook is dealing with the fallout over the massive data breach it announced last week and the high-profile departures of Instagram’s co-founders.