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Uber CEO gives exec public slap on the wrist for threatening journalists

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By now, there's no question that Uber exec Emil Michael said some seriously concerning things about the potential merit of digging up dirt on journalists critical of the company at a private party in front of reporters and celebrities. For the record, no, he never said that Uber was actively digging up dirt on seemingly pesky reporters, nor did he suggest that Uber plans to. Still, the very fact that he responded to the issue of seemingly slanted journalism with a pretty detailed plan of attack set off a media firestorm. This whole thing prompted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to take Michael to task on Twitter today, noting that his comments at that dinner demonstrated a distinct lack of leadership and humanity.

We suppose the explanation is a welcome gesture, but c'mon -- what else are you supposed to do when you're the head of a company valued at nearly $20 billion and one of your right hand men goes off the rails in front of Buzzfeed's editor-in-chief? We've reproduced the entirety of Kalanick's tweetstorm below -- be sure to keep an eye for that part where Kalanick says Emil Michael has been let go from the company because of that bizarre lapse of judgment and the lack of empathy contained therein.

Just kidding! He's still gainfully employed, and Kalanick added that he believes that Emil can learn from the mistakes he's made. Here's our question though: is the mistake he's referring to the fact that Michael seemed to entertain the thought of opposition research against journos, or that he got caught talking about it aloud? Unfortunately for the immensely valued on-demand car startup, the incredibly awful way he got caught shoving his foot in his mouth is the latest in a pretty long line of PR bungles -- there was its distasteful cross-promotion with a French model'/escort service, not to mention the way it screwed with a smaller competitor by calling for and canceling rides. Kalanick says that the company needs to show off the "positive principles that are the core of Uber's culture," but man -- it's hard to imagine them doing any worse at it.

Update: As a followup, Uber also published its data privacy policy, which it claims prohibits employees from accessing rider data, except for a legitimate set of business purposes. Clearly, it's aimed at journalists (us) suddenly wondering what the company's execs might do with information like where we live, work and play.

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