Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview Monday morning that he wasn’t willing to divulge what he and President Donald Trump talked about in a previously secret dinner at the White House in October, calling the conversation a “private discussion.”
Zuckerberg was responding to a question from CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King on the dinner, which was made public on November 20.
“We talked about a number of things that were on his mind and the topics that you’d read in the news around our work,” said Zuckerberg.
King pressed the social media CEO on the conversation.
“People will say the optics weren’t good,” King said of the dinner, which was also attended by Facebook investor and Trump supporter billionaire Peter Thiel.
“Did he try to lobby you in any way?” King asked, referring to reports that the president used the dinner as a venue to complain about his view of the treatment of conservatives on the social media platform.
“I want to respect that it was a private discussion,” said Zuckerberg.
Q: What was the nature of your meeting with Trump? Can you say?
ZUCKERBERG: “Ah, sure, I mean, we talked about, ahm, a number of things that were on his mind, and, um, some of the topics that you’d read about in the news around, around, um, our work.” pic.twitter.com/b2rqHoZrn7
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 2, 2019
The framing of King’s question—that Zuckerberg, not Trump, was the one at the dinner being lobbied—was notable to Financial Times reporter Kadhim Shubber.
“No better example of Facebook’s power than Zuckerberg being asked here whether Trump lobbied him, rather than whether he lobbied Trump,” Shubber tweeted.
As Common Dreams reported, news of the dinner set off a firestorm of criticism from progressives who found both the meeting and the secrecy indicative of what Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called “corruption, plain and simple.”
King also asked Zuckerberg about his company’s policy on allowing ads spreading political lies without restriction. The Facebook CEO said that the public should be trusted to figure the truth out.
“What I believe is in a democracy is it’s really important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying so they can make their own judgments,” said Zuckerberg.
NBC News reporter Ben Collins pointed out that the transparency Zuckerberg was celebrating apparently didn’t extend to his refusal to reveal what the president said during their dinner.
“Are these directly contradictory statements? Yes. Does it matter? Lol, no, of course not,” tweeted Collins.
Watch the interview, via CBS: