- Reuters/Business Insider
- Mark Zuckerberg used a booster seat during testimony to Congress.
- The 5-foot-7 Facebook CEO’s stature was boosted by the 4-inch black cushion.
- Sources have suggested it was for comfort rather than optics, but the effects of looking taller in an intimidating situation are obvious.
- Other figures giving testimony have used cushions – but Zuckerberg’s is on a different level.
Mark Zuckerberg faced the most intense scrutiny of his life on Tuesday in a five-hour grilling session from US senators – all while sitting on a 4-inch booster seat.
Photographs from the hearing show the Facebook founder and CEO, who is 5-foot-7, was supported on a chunky black cushion while taking questions.
The cushion gave Zuckerberg, who is not a physically imposing man, the appearance of somebody significantly taller during a potentially intimidating encounter.
Imagine, for instance, if Zuckerberg had looked several inches shorter in photographs like this:
Sources yesterday suggested to Business Insider that the cushion was meant to enhance Zuckerberg’s comfort rather than to make him look big.
But its effect on the optics is undeniable, particularly in a set-up with such potential for making the subject of congressional scrutiny look small and exposed.
Zuckerberg was extensively coached for the appearance, which took him far out of his comfort zone. He was also forced into a dark suit, rather than the grey t-shirt and jeans which he prefers.
Stop infantilizing Mark Zuckerberg! Also, here’s his booster seat. (Photographs by Evy Mages.) pic.twitter.com/MeKwDZwIEF
— Andrew Beaujon (@abeaujon) April 10, 2018
The hearing was the first time he has faced direct scrutiny from lawmakers – so it should be no surprise if every detail is managed as closely as possible.
Others have used boosters too – but none quite like Zuckerberg’s
A review of similar congressional hearings by Business Insider shows that some people in similar situations have also chosen to use cushions, but we struggled to find anything quite as robust as Zuckerberg’s.
In her marathon hearing over the Benghazi embassy attack in 2016, Hillary Clinton brought a cushion along with her. But this one supported her back, and wouldn’t have made her look any taller.
She also had a back support when testifying in 2013.
Former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, by contrast, went through a lengthy hearing with no extra padding.
Jerome Powell, Yellen’s successor, also got through his confirmation hearing without support.
For contrast, in a 2010 hearing on the airline industry, former United and Continental Airlines CEOs Glenn Tilton and Jeffery Smisek were pictured organising their cushions for a hearing. The Getty Images caption notes that they requested them specially.
- Getty Images
However, even their boosters were significantly smaller than Zuckerberg’s.