Uber Stupid?

The threats to journalists continue, this time from the world of tech. The incident started on Friday when an Uber exec said he thought the company ought to do “oppo” research on journalists “and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticized the company, per Buzzfeed.

According to Poynter exec Emil Michael tried to apologize but then hung up when she refused to speak off the record. He did post a seemingly unqualified apology on Twitter, except that he called her Sarah Cuda. But as  Sarah Lacy points out, this assault is merely the latest salvo. CEO Travis Kalanick had previously said he intended to use political researchers to “throw mud.” Is Uber so insecure that it can’t rest on the strength of its business model? Doesn’t it have enough money to hire people who can keep the execs on a leash?

Kalanick’s response to the controversy was met with derision because it was four days in coming and because with each subsequent tweet, he kept trying to deflect the conversation away from Michael.

The leadership of a popular and growing company exhibiting this type of bunker mentality shows that they don’t “get it.” Refusing to return calls, emails, etc., and hanging up on reporters is not the way to proceed. This follows the head-blind ads in France with nearly naked female “drivers,” among other tone-deaf adventures.

As to the journalists’ perspective, Poytner’s Andrew Beaujon raises a good point about what sort of dirt one could find on most journalists. He mentions Cayman Island bank account. I’m thinking more on the order of a raft of unpaid bills and parking tickets for anyone who functions in a metro area.

I tried to book an Uber ride when I was in NYC. So glad it didn’t work. Next time, I’ll choose Lyft, which has a much better reputation.


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