TikTok Hires Disney’s Former Comms Czar Zenia Mucha to Advise on Looming Ban

Obama advisors David Plouffe and Jim Messina have also been brought in to guide the social platform through ongoing litigation


Zenia Mucha, the longtime head of Disney corporate communications with a fierce reputation for playing hardball with the media, is now taking on Congress as an adviser to TikTok.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Mucha, along with David Plouffe and Jim Messina, two prominent allies of former president Barack Obama, are working with the Chinese company in its efforts to fight a proposed ban of the video sharing app.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew last week tried to convince members of the the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the addictive app he claims is now used by more than 150 million Americans has some separation from its China-based parent company, ByteDance.

Lawmakers fear that the parent company, which includes Chinese government officials on its board, can access TikTok user data and might also use the platform’s algorithms to influence its content filtering.

Congress, the White House and various regulators have suggested a ban or attempts to force ByteDance to sell the app. It is already banned on devices issued by the federal government, along with multiple state governments.

Chew’s performance in front of the panel did little to dissuade these fears or the impulse to ban the app, despite a month of coaching from Mucha, Plouffe and Messina.

The Journal reported that the company said it hired the trio because it sought a diversity of views as it prepared for the congressional hearing. “That’s why we brought in additional folks,” a TikTok spokeswoman told the outlet.

Hiring the well-connected advisors “show the extent to which TikTok is muscling up to fight growing cries from U.S. lawmakers and officials that the app should be banned because of its ties to China,” the Journal reported.

Mucha during her tenure at Disney was known for cracking down on journalists who didn’t portray Disney’s family-friendly brand positively. One memorable example came in 2017, when the Los Angeles Times was banned from film screenings in response to a story about the company’s relationship with Anaheim. After outcry from other media outlets, Disney backed off.

Plouffe has been in the spotlight a number of times since managing the 2008 campaign that put Obama in the White House. After leaving the government, he became president of policy and strategy at Uber when the ride-sharing company was embroiled in regulatory battles in other countries. He was also president for policy and advocacy of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the foundation created by Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Pricilla Chan.

Messina, who managed Obama’s successful 2012 campaign, once led Priorities USA Action, the Democratic Party’s largest outside fundraising group, according to the Journal.

TikTook also got advice ahead of the testimony from Tony Sayegh, the Journal reported. Sayegh was a senior adviser during Donald Trump’s presidential administration and a former Fox News contributor who now works with one of ByteDance’s investors.