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An executive at Uber is regretting his words after inadvertently coming across as a James Bond-esque villain.

Senior Vice President Emil Michael allegedly suggested that Uber should dig up dirt on journalists who have been critical of the company, in order to discredit them. While in conversation at a dinner of elites in Manhattan’s Waverly Inn, the Senior Vice President insincerely proposed spending a million dollars to hire a team of opposition researchers that would look into the personal lives of outspoken Uber critics.

Through a company spokesperson, Emil Michael later apologized, saying, “The remarks attributed to me at a private dinner — borne 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.” 

Journalist Michael Wolff has written an article in which he asserts that the BuzzFeed piece exposing these comments should not be taken as an accurate representation of the dinner. He points out that the controversial remarks were said in a private conversation that Emil Michael mistakenly understood to be off-the-record. “While being off-the-record, or believing you are off-the-record, might mean you are more truthful, it can also mean you are, carelessly, full of gas. Was Michael stating Uber policy, or was this a half-bottle of wine rant? And do you want to acknowledge a difference?” writes Wolff in his clarification of the evening. He points out that the conversation was out of earshot of most attendees, and yet “the article implies that the Michael remarks were to the dinner itself.”

Now that Emil Michael has apologized for making jokes and allowing you to not have to own a car, we here at V+CO believe that everyone should just move on. After all, every company crosses the line at some point or another, whether conversationally or in practice. If an Uber executive must be made to apologize for insincerely conspiring against journalists, what’s next? Should V+CO apologize for launching a top secret weather balloon into the atmosphere that spies on other interactive marketing firms and shoots lasers at them? No, of course not; such conduct is perfectly within our rights, and we certainly don’t deserve any sensationalized media criticism from pesky journalists. Should we apologize for creating an Uber-style app in which anybody can be an assassin, and anyone can hire an assassin? No, of course no--. Sorry, our PR guy is now telling me to shut up and apologize.

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