Pando

Hecklers cut from Travis Kalanick's frosty Colbert interview

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on September 11, 2015

From The Travis Shrugged Desk

According to multiple people present in the studio, last night's taping of Steven Colbert's interview with Uber's Travis Kalanick was interrupted at least twice by heckling from NY cab drivers in the audience. 

Buzzfeed's Rachel Zarrell reports that "At Colbert, audience member started protesting the Uber CEO. Amazing how Colbert just let him speak." Another audience member, "Sarah," tweeted...

Two separate times during the interview with Uber guy, some cabbies in the balcony yelled stuff and interrupted the conversation... They were criticizing Uber's disruption of the NYC cab system, and they were very aggressive and made everyone rather uncomfortable... I mean, I don't blame them, their argument is valid. But I initially thought it was a bit, but the crew started looking around frantically... Instead of having the men removed, Stephen acted with complete respect and control. He listened intently to what they had to say... When the guy finished, Stephen said that he was planning on asking a similar question, and politely asked the man to be seated.... He then turned back to the interview and addressed exactly what the man had yelled about. It was very smooth. The whole thing was cut, tho.... Then five minutes later, another man got up and yelled something else. The Uber guy started to talk back to him, but Stephen calmly touched his arm and quieted both him and the cab driver in the balcony. He said that he would ask the man's question "in a more respectful way."... Then he again respectfully asked the man to sit down, and he asked exactly what the man had yelled about. Very, very smooth transition.

The NY Daily News later named the hecklers as New York Taxi Workers Alliance members Bill Lindauer, Victor Salazar, Asim Akhtar, and Ryan Richardson.

Although none of the heckling made the final broadcast, viewers did get to see Colbert asking a series of questions to Kalanick about the company's "disruption" of NY cab drivers, its move towards driverless cars and its policy of increasing prices during terrorist attacks. "Is that how we should be treating each other?" Colbert asked. 

For his part, Kalanick, who seemed annoyed by the premise of all of Colbert's questions, responded to the surge pricing one with a cold explanation of supply and demand. His response to driverless cars was equally frigid: It's just the way of the world. Tech companies either want to be part of it, or they don't.  

In fact, whether due to editing, the heckler, or just his actual personality, Kalanick comes across as cold throughout the entire interview. The only moment of levity came when Colbert tries to get him to explain UberEATS. 

"You know what I could go for?" says Colbert. "A casserole from the back of a Buick." 

"We have temperature controlled containers," Kalanick responded before leaving to curiously muted applause.

Perhaps next time Kalanick does an interview, he'll insist on a temperature controlled studio. 

Here's the full interview...