John Hodgman (Comedy Central)

John Hodgman is "baffled" Uber exec wasn't fired, says he won't use Uber

The author, comedian and "Daily Show" correspondent wrote a scathing blog post about Uber's recent scandal


Sarah Gray
November 19, 2014 11:11PM (UTC)

"Daily Show" correspondent, author and New York Times Magazine contributor John Hodgman wrote a pointed blog post Tuesday night about the latest scandal surrounding Uber. On Monday night BuzzFeed reported that at a private dinner, senior vice president Emil Michael suggested spending $1 million to dig up dirt on journalists who criticized the ride-share company -- specifically naming PandoDaily editor Sarah Lacy.

Unlike Ashton Kutcher, who doesn't understand what is so problematic with doxxing a journalist, Hodgman is not impressed. And he spoke with both actions and words, deleting the app and writing a blog calling for Michael's resignation. The blog post is reprinted below:

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"I’m sure Emil Michael is very talented at what he does and it would probably be hard and/or expensive for Uber to let him go.

But this is an executive who advocated for doxxing as corporate policy.

And if he did’t mean that they would publicly reveal the dirt his million dollar team of opposition researchers discovered, what ELSE would they do with that information? Use it against the journalist, I guess? I mean WHAT ELSE?

In particular, his public axe-grinding against Sarah Lacy was beyond unprofessional, and simply gross. And, if reported fairly, this moment from the Buzzfeed account itself implies a specific—if veiled—threat that’s an eyelash away from blackmail.

"Uber’s dirt-diggers, Michael said, could expose Lacy. They could, in particular, prove a particular and very specific claim about her personal life."

And his defense—that he didn’t mean the words coming out of his mouth—is beyond cowardly.

I’m know he’s very sad and I know Uber is very sad. But to my mind, the only honorable (and SMART) move for himself, and the company he claims to be proud of is:  resign, already. That he couldn’t, and Uber couldn’t take the hard next step and fire him, is baffling to me.

If this isn’t a fireable offense, are there any? Can Uber make ANY hard decisions? Or worse, would they only fire a person who had less wealth and prestige within the industry? What if one of their drivers made comments like that to a reporter? Or an intern?

I honestly wish Michael the best. Sometimes talented people make dumb mistakes. In most walks of life, good people are held accountable for even the dumbest, most unfair mistakes. In increasingly rare walks of life, good people hold themselves accountable for them. These are my values.

I like Uber. I know some don’t. I don’t intend to blackmail them.

And I really don’t want to take that crummy car I was so glad to hang up on two years ago.

But I just can’t get into a car with those guys anymore."

Read more about how Uber has responded with a "tweetstorm" non-apology here.

Updated: This article previously described Hodgman as a "former" correspondent for "The Daily Show." He is still a correspondent.


Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

MORE FROM Sarah Gray

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Doxxing Emil Michael John Hodgman Sarah Lacy Sharing Economy Technology Uber

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