An Uber executive, speaking at a dinner, told an audience that included journalists that in order to defend itself from critical reporters, the company could look into “your personal lives, your families.” BuzzFeed reports that Emil Michael specifically cited PandoDaily’s Sarah Lacy:
At the dinner, Michael expressed outrage at Lacy’s column and said that women are far more likely to get assaulted by taxi drivers than Uber drivers. He said that he thought Lacy should be held ‘personally responsible’ for any woman who followed her lead in deleting Uber and was then sexually assaulted.
Then he returned to the opposition research plan. Uber’s dirt-diggers, Michael said, could expose Lacy. They could, in particular, prove a particular and very specific claim about her personal life.
BuzzFeed noted that Michael made the comments in a conversation he later said he thought was off the record. Through a spokesperson, Michael has already made an apology. Because threatening people — especially journalists who love nothing more than to talk about themselves — is likely never a good business strategy. Unless you’re in the mob.
“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,” said Michael, in the statement. “They were wrong no matter the circumstance and I regret them.”
We’re sure he does.