Tags: emil michael | uber | executive | journalists

Emil Michael, Uber Exec, Sorry for Plot to Ruin Journalists' Reputations

By    |   Tuesday, 18 Nov 2014 01:40 PM

Uber executive Emil Michael got vindictive at a private dinner held last week, allegedly telling guests that he would consider spending $1 million to tarnish the reputations of journalists who've criticized the company — particularly editor-in-chief of tech website Pando, Sarah Lacy.

According to a Buzzfeed editor who attended the dinner, held Friday at Manhattan's Waverly Inn, the senior vice president for business spoke specifically of hiring four opposition researchers that could help Uber fight back against the press. He said the team could dig up dirt regarding "your personal lives, your families" and expose it, undermining the credibility of critical journalists and shifting the news narrative away from Uber.

He also spoke specifically of a column Lacy wrote on Pando last month.

In it, she criticized one of Uber's offices in France, which recently sent out an email that appeared to advertise a service promoting female escort drivers in the city of Lyon. The company ultimately retracted the service and email, but not before Lacy and others could call it out for "sexism and misogyny," question the safety of women using Uber, and ask people to delete the app and boycott the company.

She also noted the behavior of CEO Travis Kalanick, who's commented that the company should be called "boober" because of all the women he's gotten since it took off.

Michael said at the dinner that the hypothetical opposition research team could prove a particular claim about Lacy's personal life, ruining her career.

After Buzzfeed published the account of the dinner, things really hit the fan.

On Monday, Michael issued an apology via a spokesperson.

"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 said.

The spokeswoman made it clear that Uber doesn't do "oppo research" on journalists and stated further that all journalists' trip records and data generated throughout any use of the company's services are "permitted only for legitimate business purposes."

In a response to the controversy, Lacy penned a new article on Monday.

She wrote that when she heard about the proposed attacks on her, "I immediately thought of my kids at home halfway around the world, just getting out of their baths and groggily pulling on their pajamas, and how the new line that this company was willing to cross would affect them."

She also reminded readers that Michael has not been fired.

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Uber executive Emil Michael got vindictive at a private dinner held last week, allegedly telling guests that he would consider spending $1 million to tarnish the reputations of journalists who've criticized the company — particularly editor-in-chief of tech website Pando, Sarah Lacy.
emil michael, uber, executive, journalists
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2014-40-18
Tuesday, 18 Nov 2014 01:40 PM
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