Zuckerberg Pushes Back, Defends Sandberg in CNN Sit-Down

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November 21, 2018
Updated 3mo ago

By Carlo Versano

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave a rare television interview on Tuesday night in an attempt to control the deepening scandals enveloping his social-media empire.

Speaking to CNN from Facebook's Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters, Zuckerberg dismissed calls by some shareholders and pundits to step down from his chairman role. Zuckerberg is both chairman and CEO of Facebook ($FB) and controls the majority of voting shares, making him among the most powerful chief executives in America.

When asked if he would step down as chair, Zuckerberg said, "That's not the plan."

The 34-year-old CEO also responded to a damning report in The New York Times from last week, in which both he and deputy Sheryl Sandberg are described as fumbling the response to early reports of Russian interference on the platform ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Times also revealed Facebook's relationship with a controversial PR firm, Definers Public Affairs, which attempted to smear anti-Facebook advocates. The social media giant has since cut ties with the firm, and the Facebook executive who hired Definers reportedly took the blame in an internal memo.

Zuckerberg hit back at The Times in his CNN interview, insisting that some of its reporting wasn't accurate.

“A lot of the things that were in that report, we talked to the reporters ahead of time and told them that from everything that we’d seen, that wasn’t true and they chose to print it anyway," Zuckerberg said. The Times said it stands by its reporting.

Zuckerberg also defended his embattled second-in-command, Sheryl Sandberg, whom he reportedly blamed for Facebook's response to its PR crises. "She's been an important partner for me for 10 years," he said. "I hope that we work together for decades more to come."