At a dinner party attended by New York elite and assorted members of the press, Emil Michael, senior vice president of business for Uber, suggested that the company should spend a million dollars to hire a team of opposition researchers and journalists to dig up dirt on members of the press who criticized the company. Unfortunately there was a BuzzFeed editor at the event who took note of Michael’s comments and wrote an article about them.
Over dinner, Michael suggested that the imagined team of researchers could help Uber fight back against the press — they’d look into “your personal lives, your families,” and give the media a taste of its own medicine.
He was particularly pissed off at journalist, Sarah Lacy, the editor of the Silicon Valley website PandoDaily who wrote that Uber appeared to be working with a French escort service. “I don’t know how many more signals we need that the company simply doesn’t respect us or prioritize our safety.”
Michael said they could expose Lacy and could, in particular, prove a particular and very specific claim about her personal life.
When someone suggested that a plan like the one Michael suggested could become a problem for Uber he replied, “Nobody would know it was us.”
On Monday in a statement through an Uber spokeswoman, Michael said, “The remarks attributed to me at a private dinner — borne out of frustration during an informal debate over what I feel is sensationalistic media coverage of the company I am proud to work for — do not reflect my actual views and have no relation to the company’s views or approach. They were wrong no matter the circumstance and I regret them.”
He also claimed that he thought his comments were ‘off the record.’
(Just for the record, there really isn’t any such thing as ‘off the record.’ It is a courtesy that some journalists extend to some people in some circumstances but it is not a binding agreement. If you don’t want someone publishing something you say, then don’t say it to a bunch of reporters!)
Not surprisingly the story has exploded on the web – mainly because journalists don’t appreciate being attacked.
What I did find a bit surprising was of the hundred or so comments I have read on the BuzzFeed story and half a dozen other stories about this was that quite a few people thought Michael’s proposal was a good one and someone should start digging up dirt on reporters and journalists. Apparently a lot of people feel that journalists are all shills for the republican/democrat/tea party/communist parties, that we work for ultra-conservative/liberal corporations, that we all have hidden agendas and we are all liars who make shit up just to get attention.
Yep. That’s pretty much me in a nutshell. A lying republican/democrat/tea party/communist shill who works for an ultra-conservative/liberal corporation with hidden agendas and I make shit up all the time just to get attention. Oh, and I’m a Satanist pedophile with a dozen overdue library books.