Uber Executive Threatens to Release Journalists' Private Info, Later 'Apologizes'

Uber Executive Threatens to Release Journalists' Private Info, Later 'Apologizes'

Senior Uber executive Emil Michael thought it would be a good idea to dig up personal information on journalists who oppose the Uber empire and publish it–with focus on a particular female journalist–but later “apologized” for his suggestion of such targeting.

The executive of the smartphone app company that arranges private transportation in some of America’s biggest cities said that he thought that Uber should hire opposition researchers to dig up dirt on journalists and then use that info to quiet their criticism. Michael specifically targeted Pando Daily founder Sarah Lacy, who has been critical of the company.

At one point in the conversation, the executive even claimed that it could release the information without being detected. “Nobody would know it was us,” he said.

Michael, who was a senior Obama administration adviser and a former COO of the social media company Klout, made his remarks in what he claims he thought was an off record conversation.

But the initial report on the conversation by BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith indicated that the executive did not specify that the meeting was to be considered off record.

When BuzzFeed contacted them about the article, Uber quickly released a statement by Michael claiming that he was only speaking out of “frustration” and that he didn’t really mean it.

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.

Uber further said that it would be a breach of its own privacy rules to release any information about its customers’ transportation records and insisted that they do not do any “oppo research” on journalists.

Uber executives have been supporters of President Obama. The company’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, at one point even strangely claimed that his company was a success because of Obamacare.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.


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