Michael Wolff: BuzzFeed’s Uber Report ‘Misrepresents’ What Happened


BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith wrote a scathing report this week on what an Uber executive said about digging up dirt on journalists at a dinner Smith attended. Smith was invited by columnist Michael Wolff, who instantly regretted it once he saw Smith’s report:

And today, Wolff has a new piece out telling his side of the story and taking multiple shots at Smith. For a start, he writes, “His background is as a gotcha political blogger, and he has matured into a stern, official-sounding voice, censorious and moralistic.”

He charges that Smith “misrepresents” the dinner and implies that Uber’s Emil Michael made these comments where everyone could hear them, which he says was not the case. And he really sticks the knife in in calling out Smith’s reporting:

Instead of labeling Michael’s remarks in such OMG, shock-shocked, clickbait fashion, Smith, or a more skillful writer, might have located them with greater precision on the broader spectrum of meaning and emotion. After all, how likely is it that a company planning to investigate reporters is going to divulge this to a reporter, even in an off-the-record conversation? If you believe that, there are many worthless tech companies I could sell you. So if he did not literally mean we’re going to spy on the press, then what was Michael trying to say?

Wolff was backed up a bit by Politico’s Dylan Byers, who has a serious issue with journalists going wild over Michael’s reported comments:

It’s troubling to watch the digital lynch mob on Twitter promote the idea that a man should be fired from his job because he floated an idea, however unsavory, over dinner. Yes, it is frightening to think that an executive at a powerful company entertains the idea of investigating journalists. But it is also frightening that many journalists who rely on the freedom of speech think someone should be fired because he said something crazy at the Waverly Inn on a Friday night.

And they’re not the only ones defending Uber in all this; Uber investor Ashton Kutcher tweeted out his issues with the BuzzFeed report as well today.

Uber, meanwhile, has apologized and clarified its user privacy policy.

[image via Wikimedia Commons]

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: josh@mediaite.com Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac