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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Facebook policy executive Joel Kaplan's attendance at Brett Kavanaugh's testimony last week sparked a firestorm inside the company, Mike Isaac reports in the New York Times.

Our thought bubble: The reaction is another example of the kind of turmoil Silicon Valley companies face when leaders make choices that clash with values held by many in their workforce.

Kaplan and Kavanaugh are close friends, having served in the George W. Bush administration together. Kaplan's wife, Laura Cox Kaplan, has also been a vocal supporter of the Supreme Court nominee since allegations emerged that he committed sexual misconduct in high school and college.

  • Kaplan, who is Facebook's vice president of global public policy, has reportedly apologized for his appearance at the hearing. The company has said he was there on personal time.

Now, Facebook employees are putting pressure on the company's leadership over Kaplan's decision.

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees he wouldn't have attended, if he had been in Kaplan's shoes, per the Times and a Wall Street Journal report.
  • Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said that she "talked to Joel about why I think it was a mistake for him to attend given his role in the company," per both papers.

What they're saying:

"Sexual assault is an issue society has turned a blind eye to for far too long — compounding every victim's pain. Our leadership team recognizes that they've made mistakes handling the events of the last week and we're grateful for all the feedback from our employees."
— Facebook spokesperson

The bottom line: "Even at Facebook, people seem more riled up about the Kavanaugh hearings than the giant Facebook hack," noted Wired editor Nicholas Thompson on Twitter.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the correct author's byline.

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
1 hour ago - Sports

European soccer is at war

Liverpool celebrating its 2019 Champions League victory. Photo: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Europe's biggest soccer clubs have established The Super League, a new midweek tournament that would compete with — and threaten the very existence of — the Champions League.

Why it matters: This new league, set to start in 2023, "would bring about the most significant restructuring of elite European soccer since the 1950s, and could herald the largest transfer of wealth to a small set of teams in modern sports history," writes NYT's Tariq Panja.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

2021's expected earnings blowout begins

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

First-quarter earnings so far have been very strong, outpacing even the rosy expectations from Wall Street and that's a trend that's expected to continue for all of 2021. S&P 500 companies are on pace for one of the best quarters of positive earnings surprises on record, according to FactSet.

Why it matters: The results show that not only has the earnings recession ended for U.S. companies, but firms are performing better than expected and the economy may be justifying all the hype.

2 hours ago - Science

NASA's Mars helicopter takes flight as first aircraft piloted on another planet

Ingenuity on the surface of Mars, filmed by NASA's Perseverance rover. Photo: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA successfully piloted the Ingenuity Mars helicopter for its first experimental flight on Monday, briefly hovering the aircraft as NASA's Perseverance rover collected data.

Why it matters: Ingenuity's short flight marks the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.