creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Deb Saunders
Debra J. Saunders
18 Nov 2014
Think Obamacare's Affordable? You're Stupid

Before he became the Obama administration's least favorite overpaid expert, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber was … Read More.

16 Nov 2014
Sen. Feinstein Goes to War Against Airbnb

In her mind, Dianne Feinstein will always be mayor of San Francisco. She may be a high-ranking U.S. senator … Read More.

13 Nov 2014
Elections Have Consequences 2.0

The words "deportation relief" jumped out at me from Greg Sargent's Washington Post blog posting titled "Get … Read More.

Uber Forgot Charm in 'Charm Offensive'

Comment

When Uber hired onetime Obama whisperer David Plouffe, CEO Travis Kalanick wrote: "We are in the middle of a political campaign and it turns out the candidate is Uber. Our opponent — the Big Taxi cartel — has used decades of political contributions and influence to restrict competition, reduce choice for consumers, and put a stranglehold on economic opportunity for its drivers."

Translation: This is war, and we're going to use every weapon known to win.

So when I read that an Uber veep suggested that the ride services giant should spend a million bucks to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists to dig up dirt on its critics in journalism, did I believe he meant what he said? Of course I did. That veep Emil Michael made the suggestion at a dinner with big shots in journalism and that dinner was supposed to punctuate Kalanick's "charm offensive" with the media, well, that's just dessert.

BuzzFeed's editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, reported Michael's remarks because, he said, no one — including USA Today columnist Michael Wolff, who invited Smith — had told him that dinner conversation was off the record. Earlier in the day, Uber had hosted a working session with journalists to beef up its image. That session was off the record, and explicitly so. Apparently, execs wanted to whisper and wink their way to good press among the troops and then wine and dine their more influential editors with ideas not meant to be linked to their precious personal brand.

What story angered Michael so much that he wanted to hire former journalists to smear present journalists? As the French say, cherchez la femme.

PandoDaily Editor-in-Chief Sarah Lacy had written that she deleted the Uber app from her phone after she saw a promotional campaign touting hot French female Uber drivers — aka avions de chasse. "Seat back, relax and let them take you on cloud 9!" the promotion purred.

"Women drive Ubers and ride in them. I don't know how many more signals we need that the company simply doesn't respect us or prioritize our safety," Lacy opined. Amen, sister.

Uber must have agreed, as the corporation, valued at more than $17 billion, scrubbed the promotion. Still, Michael apparently was so incensed at Lacy's reaction to Uber's playful promotion that he could not help but fantasize about destroying her reputation — in front of an editor.

The episode is reminiscent of a campaign to carpet-bomb the district of California Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla when she was pushing a measure mandating liability insurance for ride services drivers. One mailer accused Bonilla of "leaving consumers and entrepreneurs on the curb while she takes a ride with her special interest friends."

Kalanick apologized on Twitter for what he called Michael's "terrible" remarks, saying they are not representative of Uber's positive spirit. The CEO also pledged to earn the public's trust. There's a small problem here. The infamous New York dinner was supposed to be the encore performance of an orchestrated campaign to spin the reputation of the Uber alecks so they no longer appear like arrogant hotshots who try to bully anyone who stands up to them.

Email Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@sfchronicle.com. To find out more about Debra J. Saunders and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM



Comments

0 Comments | Post Comment
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
Debra J. Saunders
Nov. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
26 27 28 29 30 31 1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 1 2 3 4 5 6
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Authorís Podcast
Marc Dion
Marc DionUpdated 24 Nov 2014
David Limbaugh
David LimbaughUpdated 21 Nov 2014
Michelle Malkin
Michelle MalkinUpdated 21 Nov 2014

25 Mar 2010 Springtime for Libya and Terrorism

31 Jul 2012 Bill Clinton's New Best Friends

19 Mar 2009 Tree Sitter Is Not in Berkeley Anymore