One of Uber’s most senior executives, Emil Michael, suggested the car company should hire a team of researchers to dig up dirt on the “personal lives” and “families” of journalists who have criticize the car service.
Michael blurted out the comments, which he believed were made off the record, at a high-profile dinner party attended by famous and important people like actor Ed Norton, publisher Arianna Huffington – as well as a BuzzFeed editor who reported the executive’s vicious proposition for media critics.
According to Buzzfeed News, Michael was “particularly focusing” on reporter Sarah Lacy, who has in the past written that she deleted her Uber app after the company teamed up with an apparent escort service in France.
He then went on to suggest the company spend $1 million hiring “four top opposition researchers and four journalists” to investigate the “personal lives and families” of all the media critics who write negative reviews and reports on Uber.
Following BuzzFeed’s exposé, outrage ensued – and both Michael and Uber had to issue apologies.
“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,” the executive stated.
He also addressed Lacy in a tweet and apologized to her as well:
@sarahcuda I would like to apologize to you directly. My comments were wrong and I deeply regret them.— Emil Michael (@emilmichael) November 18, 2014
Uber spokeswoman Nairi Hourdajian reiterated that the company hasn’t yet and doesn’t plan to look into the personal lives of people.
“We have not, do not and will not investigate journalists. Those remarks have no basis in the reality of our approach,” she said.