Booker Defends News Timing in Face of Movie
He said Facebook feared the announcement would be viewed as an "elaborate publicity stunt," adding that he, Christie and Facebook conducted "long calls" to convince Zuckerberg to deliver their news as planned. Booker even enlisted the aid of Oprah to convince Zuckerberg not to allow a "fictionalized movie to deter him from standing up with us."
Whether it was Oprah, or the dire situation in Newark's public schools, Facebook decided not to let a negative portrayal of Zuckerberg dampen Zuckerberg's largest public contribution ever. Facebook, Governor Christie and Mayor Booker will be commended for their decision in some quarters, and vilified as showmen and hucksters in others. Regardless of how people perceive Zuckerberg after the film airs widely next week, the CEO may have burnished his reputation with such a generous gift for such an important cause. Meanwhile, Mayor Booker appears to be going all in for this educational initiative, staking his career on the move on the call today. To wit, he announced the creation of the Newark Education and Youth Development Fund, a separate non-profit organization tasked to secure an additional $100 million to match the $100 million Zuckerberg's Startup: Education has committed. Calling the educational situation in Newark is dire is no overstatement. From 2008 to 2009, only 40 percent of the 40,000 students in Newark could read and write at grade level by the end of third grade. Only 54 percent of high school students graduated.
Such is the tightrope Facebook's public relations feels it must walk to portray the company and its leader in a flattering light. The company finds itself in this position after several negative privacy issues tainted its image.