PAPC Denounces Threat to Freedom of Speech
San Francisco, CA: The Philippine American Press Club joins other media organization in denouncing Uber Senior Executive Emil Michael for his remarks during a private dinner in New York about “spending a million dollars” to hire researchers and journalists to dig up dirt on journalists who write negative reports about Uber. A BuzzFeed editor, who was invited to the dinner by journalist Michael Wolff and unaware that the gathering was supposed to be off the record, reported this remark.
At the dinner, according to BuzzFeed, Michael expressed outrage at one particular journalist, Sara Lacy, editor of the Silicon Valley PandoDaily. Lacy recently accused Uber of “sexism and misogyny.” She wrote in her column that she was deleting her Uber app after BuzzFeed News reported that Uber appeared to be working with a French escort service. Lacy added, “The company simply doesn’t respect us or prioritize our safety.”
Michael said during the dinner “that women are far more likely to get assaulted by taxi drivers than Uber drivers. He said that he thought Lacy should be held “personally responsible” for any woman who followed her lead in deleting Uber and was then sexually assaulted.
PAPC believes that big corporations like Uber should respect the opinion of journalists and the constitutional right of freedom of speech. Media should not be punished for doing its job to call out potential hazards to the community and to advocate for the safety and rights of the weak and voiceless. Otherwise, corporations can do whatever they want, the public be damned, because they have at their disposal millions of dollars to shut up or destroy the life a critical journalist.
As journalists, we are called the “Fourth Estate” for a reason. We are supposed to act as watchdogs and critics of the powerful and rich, who, due to their influence brought about by position and wealth, may decide to use their “superior” position to trample on the rights of the public to further their own agenda of profit.