Buzzfeed journalist Ben Smith reported that a senior executive at Uber, Emil Michael made several statements regarding the press and in particular Sarah Lacy of PandoDaily. Here are two excerpts:
“Over dinner, he outlined the notion of spending “a million dollars” to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists. That team could, he said, help Uber fight back against the press — they’d look into “your personal lives, your families,” and give the media a taste of its own medicine.”
“At the Waverly Inn dinner, it was suggested that a plan like the one Michael floated could become a problem for Uber.
Michael responded: “Nobody would know it was us.”
None of this surprises me. It is a sign of how bad things are these days. Large amounts of money are not only distorting the political process but the free press that protects it. The sad part is there are struggling journalists out there who might just do such a thing to another journalist. Do the math, if you hire eight people to destroy someone, it comes out to $125,000 per person. That is a lot of silver.
I have to question the logic of such an attack. If your company is doing something wrong and the press brings attention to it, why not fix the problem? After all, if you have a million dollars to do something destructive, why not spend it doing something constructive? You get good publicity when you do something good.
People are always trying to control journalists. They inevitably fail because there is always another journalist out there asking lots of questions. It is what journalists do. We pepper people with questions to try to bring things to light for the public good.
Here is a good test of whether an organization understands a free press. Can I attend their event or press conference? If not, then they are hiding something, and it probably is not good. If I ask direct questions and cannot get straight answers, then the public will know something is up. The public will have the facts and make up their own minds.
Journalists all over the world are fighting for your right to know. In some countries they are beheaded. In others, they are imprisoned. In America, their reputations and personal lives are attacked. So if you see a journalist being attacked, it might be a situation like the one with Uber. Take whatever you see or hear with a grain of salt. The journalist was doing what they were supposed to do…and somebody else was not.
Copyright 2014 DJ Cline All rights reserved.