Meg Whitman, the former head of eBay and computer giant Hewlett Packard who once ran unsuccessfully for governor in California, has apologized for comparing news reporters to child sex predators during an all-hands meeting at her new company, Quibi.
This week, technology blog The Information said Whitman compared a journalist’s practice of cultivating news sources to those of sexual predators who “groom” child victims.
In an interview with Variety on Friday, Whitman said her comments were “mostly accurately portrayed” in the report, but said she now regrets making the comparison.
“I used an analogy that was inappropriate and just plain wrong,” she told Variety during an appearance at the Sundance Film Festival. “None of us are ever perfect. I didn’t intend it, and it’s not at all how I think, how I feel.”
Whitman said she had a “long, long history of journalists,” both as an executive of several giant media companies and during her short political career. Today, Whitman serves as the head of Quibi, a forthcoming streaming service that has raised $400 million in investment funding despite not having released a second of streaming television programming. The service is expected to launch at the start of April.
Whitman said she “completely respect what you all (journalists) do and the important role that you play, so I’m super sorry about it (the comments).”
Jeffrey Katzenberg, the founder of Quibi, came to her defense, saying he’d known Whitman for “more than 35 years” and that she is a “quality human being.”
“(It’s an) unfortunate choice of words that have nothing to do with who she is,” Katzenberg said. “That I know I can say with certainty.”