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Uber Executive Michael Emil Suggests Doing Opposition Research on Journalists | Vanity Fair

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What a jerk. Of course he regrets saying these things.

Uber is a popular app that connects city dwellers with drivers. It's also a company with a pugnacious reputation in the start-up scene thanks to its often unapologetic C.E.O. Travis Kalanick and its hyper-competitive tactics. Kalanick’s reputation is such that, in what was supposed to be a reassuring line, a venture capitalist told Vanity Fair’s Kara Swisher that the company’s habit for bullying is “douche as a tactic, not a strategy.”

The company, with growth on its mind, appears to be looking to change that rep. In August, it hired former Obama campaign operative David Plouffe to head its comms operation. And, last week, it hosted a dinner for high-profile media sorts in New York City, where Uber executives looked to be breaking bread with the kinds of journalists it has rankled in the past. A number of media personalities reportedly attended, including Michael Wolff and Arianna Huffington. The trouble for Uber is, senior vice president Emil Michael—apparently operating under the impression that he was off the record—suggested over the course of the evening that the company could use its deep pockets to run opposition research on journalists who criticize it.

We know this because BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith, one such influencer Uber might like to win over, reported the remarks late last night. Smith wrote that no one at Uber shared the off-the-record stipulation with BuzzFeed, before going on to write that Michael singled out PandoDaily editor Sarah Lacy, who had previously written about why she deleted the Uber app off her phone, and reportedly suggested that Lacy is responsible for any assaults by taxicab drivers on women who ride in cabs instead of taxis.

Michael apologized through a statement a company spokeswoman provided to BuzzFeed: “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 apologized, Travis apologized, Uber apologized, yadda yadda yadda.

The fact remains they think this way.

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