Ashton Kutcher defended Uber Senior Vice President of Business Emil Michael, who suggested digging up dirt on journalists who critique the company.

Uber Executive Suggests Performing Opposition Research On Journalists

On Monday, Buzzfeed reported that Michael had suggested investing “a million dollars” to hire opposition researchers that would go after journalists who have come out against Uber, a driving service app. Michael said that a proposed opposition research team would look into “your personal lives, your families.”

Specifically, Michael reportedly spoke about focusing efforts on Sarah Lacy, a Silicon Valley journalist who recently founded the website PandoDaily. Lacy is known for speaking her mind, and, on October 22, she wrote an article where she accused the company of being sexist and publicly called out investors for continuing to support the company.

“I’ve finally deleted Uber from my phone. For one thing, I increasingly don’t feel safe as a woman taking it, frequently late at night and alone. I’ve got a good solid alternative in Lyft, and life is too precious for me to put mine at risk,” Lacy wrote.

A Buzzfeed reporter attended a dinner Friday night, hosted by Uber, where Michael lamented Lacy’s article. “Uber’s dirt-diggers, Michael said, could expose Lacy. They could, in particular, prove a particular and very specific claim about her personal life,” reported Buzzfeed.

Michael later released a statement saying he believed that any comments made at the dinner were off the record, though Buzzfeed insists that they were never made aware of that fact.

“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,” Michael said in a statement.

Nairi Hourdajian, a spokesperson for Uber, denied that the company conducts any kind of opposition research on journalists, and the exact nature of the personal information that would be used to discredit Lacy is unknown. However, many assume that any private information would likely be amassed from Uber’s travel logs.

Uber, which keeps track of users and their travels in what they call the “God View,” raised eyebrows after Buzzfeed reporter Johana Bhuiyan alleged that an Uber executive had accessed her personal Uber account without her permission while exchanging e-mails about the company’s privacy policy. Uber is now investigating these allegations.

CEO Travis Kalanick, realeased a statement in 13 separate tweets, commenting on how Uber wanted to “tell the stories of progress Uber has brought to cities and show the our constituents that we are principled and mean well.”

Ashton Kutcher Defends Uber

While Michael’s comments about publicly attacking journalists caused an immediate uproar, one famous voice stood by Uber: actor Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher, an Uber investor, took to Twitter to defend Michael in a series of tweets, which ranged from seemingly innocent to defensive. “What is so wrong about digging up dirt on shady journalist?” Kutcher asked, despite the fact that he does not seem to know anything about Lacy specifically.

“So as long as journalists are interested and willing to print half truths as facts… Yes we should question the source,” Kutcher stated.

After his tweets were met with angry responses, Kutcher defended himself in a blog post, where he denied being in favor of exposing the personal information of journalists, but also attempted to discredit Lacy, suggesting that she is not a journalist.

“This morning I engaged in a public conversation around the notion that journalists should not be exempt from the actions they often employ in news gathering. I’m not suggesting that threatening journalists is OK. I am only questioning where the line between public and private is – and where we want it to be,” Kutcher wrote.

Kutcher could be facing a mountain of bad press, as his supposed stance for journalistic integrity has gained praise from the gamer movement #GamerGate, which is becoming increasingly known for its sexist agenda and habit of doxxing (revealing personal information) female critics.

John Hodgman Publicly Denounces Uber

Meanwhile, fellow actor, and frequent Daily Show Correspondent, John Hodgman, publicly announced he was deleting Uber from his phone following Michael’s comments. He also urged Michael to resign, writing, “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.”

Finally, Seth Meyers performed an entire segment making fun of Uber’s defense of their actions on his show, Late Night with Seth Meyers.