Uber executive's comments threaten to damage its relationship with journalists

A senior executive at Uber has apologised for suggesting that the company should consider hiring a group of people to dish the dirt on journalists who criticise the app-based taxi company.

Uber: The taxi company's reputation is already controversial
Uber: The taxi company's reputation is already controversial

As reported by BuzzFeed, the comments were made by Uber’s Emil Michael during a dinner in Manhattan attended by actor Ed Norton and publisher Arianna Huffington. A BuzzFeed editor was invited to the dinner by Vanity Fair writer Michael Wolff, who later admitted that he had failed to communicate that the meeting was off the record.

Some of Michael's comments were about a female journalist, Sarah Lacy, who is the editor of Silicon Valley website PandoDaily. Last month Lacy responded to reports in BuzzFeed that Uber was working with a French escort service, by writing that she was deleting her Uber account on the grounds of safety.

According to BuzzFeed Michael said that he thought Lacy should be held "personally responsible" for any woman who deleted the app after reading Lacy’s column and was then sexually assaulted by a non-Uber taxi driver. He continued to say that he could hire people to expose certain claims about Lacy’s personal life.

In an apology subsequently issued through an Uber spokeswoman, Michael said: "The remarks attributed to me at a private dinner — born 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 comments come at a time when Uber is attempting to build better relationships with the media and the image of its management team after they were accused of using aggressive tactics to sabotage competitors.

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