Ashton Kutcher Defends Uber: Why Not Investigate "Shady" Journalists?

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Ashton Kutcher

The actor is an Uber investor

Ashton Kutcher has declared his support for the Uber executive who suggested that the transportation startup should dig up dirt on journalists who criticize the company.

The Two and a Half Men actor, an Uber investor through his A-Grade venture fund, tweeted Wednesday morning:

The dustup began Monday when BuzzFeed News reported that Uber's senior vp business, Emil Michael, detailed a plan at a dinner in New York on Nov. 14 to spend "a million dollars" to hire a team that would help it fight bad press. Michael reportedly said Uber would be justified in looking into the personal lives and families of journalists in order to strike back. The executive apparently believed the dinner was an off-the-record event, though BuzzFeed said it was never told not to report on the dinner.

Michael reportedly focused on Sarah Lacy, the editor of tech news site PandoDaily who called the company sexist and criticized it for fostering an anti-female culture. Michael reportedly claimed that women are more likely to be assaulted if they use cabs rather than Uber, and is quoted as saying Lacy would be "personally responsible" if women deleted the Uber app at her suggestion.

Michael has since backed away from those comments, saying in a statement that they do not represent his views. An Uber spokeswoman has also issued a statement, saying that the company has no plans to conduct opposition research on journalists. 

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick entered the conversation on Tuesday with a stream of 13 tweets calling Michael's comments "terrible" and apologizing to Lacy. Several journalists, including Lacy, have called for Michael's firing but Kalanick tweeted that "folks who make mistakes can learn from them." 

Uber, now valued at more than $17 billion, has had an often contentious relationship with the tech press, which has gone after the company after a series of blunders, including allegedly attempting to sabotage rival Lyft.  

Kutcher himself launched into a Twitter tirade following his first post, saying that he believes "we live in a day were [sic] the first word has become 'the word.' Rumors span the globe before anyone has an opportunity to defend them selves [sic]. Everyone is guilt and then tasked to defend themselves publicly. Questioning the source needs to happen...Always! So as long as journalist [sic] are interested and willing to print half truths as facts... Yes we should question the source." 

He also clarified that he was speaking for himself, not Uber.

Then he wrote, "This should be fun... Here comes the part where journalist [sic] explain why they should be exempt from ridicule and judgement [sic] and probing..."

After backlash from a number of Twitter users, Kutcher tweeted that he's "on the wrong side of this ultimately."