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Code/red: Uber's Reputation Goes Plouffe

Plus, USA Freedom Act takes a dirt nap, the poop emoji and A Tiny Hamster Thanksgiving.


Uber Should Hire “Veep’s” Mike McLintock as Its Next Head of Comms

By hiring David Plouffe, former campaign manager and White House adviser to President Barack Obama, as its senior vice president of policy and strategy, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said he wanted to “make sure that our story is told, and that the right outcome happens.” If that was truly the plan, it really doesn’t jibe at all with the company’s handling of the latest scandal to envelop it. Certainly, Kalanick’s rambling 13-tweet repudiation of SVP Emil Michael’s suggestion that Uber hire a team of opposition researchers to smear its critics in the media does not seem to be creating anything that could be remotely described as “the right outcome.” Nor does the asinine haters-gonna-hate tweet from Uber New York General Manager Josh Mohrer that followed it — particularly since Mohrer is now under fire for tracking a BuzzFeed reporter without her permission.

Did I Say Uber Should Hire Mike McLintock? I Meant Ashton Kutcher.

“Two and a Half Men” star and Lenovo product engineer Ashton Kutcher: “What is so wrong about digging up dirt on shady journalist?”

Uber: The Only Exception to Our Policy on Data Privacy Is a Gigantic Loophole

Uber: “Uber has a strict policy prohibiting all employees at every level from accessing a rider or driver’s data. The only exception to this policy is for a limited set of legitimate business purposes.”

Congratulations, Emil Michael! Your LinkedIn Connection Travis Kalanick Has Endorsed You for Lack of Leadership and Lack of Humanity!

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on VP of business Emil Michael’s plan to do opposition research on reporters: “Emil’s comments at the recent dinner party were terrible and do not represent the company. His remarks showed a lack of leadership, a lack of humanity, and a departure from our values and ideals. His duties here at Uber do not involve communications strategy or plans and are not representative in any way of the company approach.”

Apple Intends to Clean Up Its Mesa

Though its relationship with sapphire partner GT Advanced has collapsed into allegations of bullying and defamation, Apple will not abandon the Mesa, Ariz., facility it purchased to house GT’s ambitious, but clearly not ready for prime time, sapphire-manufacturing operations. Mesa City Manager Christopher Brady tells Bloomberg that Apple has told him it wants to retain the 1.3 million-square-foot factory. “They’ve indicated their commitment to us,” Brady said. “They want to repurpose that building and use it again.” Hardly surprising, given Apple’s efforts to bring some of its manufacturing back to the U.S. If that commitment’s unchanged, why not keep the facility, whose purchase came with a sweetheart deal that cuts potential property taxes by more than 70 percent?

“Neuromancer” Author Just Can’t Seem to Wrap Head Around Tetris

William Gibson: “Pong was the only computer game I was ever good at. By the time it had gone to Tetris, I was like, ‘This is too complicated.'”

Predictably, USA Freedom Act Headed for a Long Winter’s Dirt Nap

The USA Freedom Act was intended to “rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies and increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” among other things. But it won’t. Put before the Senate Tuesday afternoon, the legislation failed to garner the 60 votes necessary to move it forward, leaving it effectively dead for this year and unlikely to be revived in 2015.

New Twitter Index Will Catalog Every Stupid Tweet Ever

So those first tentative tweets of yours? Your toddler tweets — inane, ill-conceived or both? Tweets probably best forgotten? Well, Twitter remembers them, and it plans to help everyone else do the same. The company has built an index of every public tweet since 2006 — a vast collection of “roughly half a trillion documents” that grows by several billion tweets a week.

Option: Like, Unlike, Poop

Google Doodle team lead Ryan Germick on the poop emoji: “I would reject the notion that it has one meaning. It’s a symbol in context, sort of like memes. You can do all kinds of funny things with it and use it with skill, but I guess the most common use is probably ‘that’s unfortunate, and I would like to punctuate my comment with a reiteration that I am displeased at what has just been expressed.’ It’s the anti-like.”

Art in the “Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer” Sense of the Word, Right?

Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick on Grand Theft Auto 5 and its hatchet killing sprees: “This is a criminal setting. It’s a gritty underworld. It is art. And I’ve embraced that art.”

Off Topic

A Tiny Hamster Thanksgiving.

Thanks for reading. Send tips, comments, Off Topics and Elizabethan superhero photos to, @johnpaczkowski. Subscribe to the Code/red newsletter here.

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