Last summer, Michael and his wife Elise Jordan sat down with John Avlon and his wife Margaret Hoover in a touching interview that focused on Hasting's memorable Rolling Stone article and the risks of reporting the news.
Now more than ever, the press is a part of every story it covers. And CNN's "Reliable Sources" is one of television's only regular programs to examine how journalists do their jobs and how the media affect the stories they cover.
Brian Stelter is the host of "Reliable Sources" and the senior media correspondent for CNN Worldwide. Before he joined CNN in November 2013, Stelter was a media reporter for The New York Times. He is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Top of the Morning."
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I didn't know who he was. Michael Hastings you sound like the type of guy that this world needs. We need to get to the bottom of these tough stories.Michael RIP!I wish her family the best.
They killed this guy on purpose and everyone knows it
I offered this comment on a recent Opednews article by Cheri Roberts:
Those who cannot be led can often be driven to death
Just to start by saying that living in Ireland my principle line into American issues is as an Opednews anti-war commentator so my knowledge of American life in general is limited.
Many of us find ourselves in lives bounded by conspiracy from cradle to grave. Psychologists would have their own thoughts about that. The anti-war movement and Wikileaks is now attracting a constituency of people who, by virtue of having sexual issues, understand conspiracy on a more profound level. People who, in having the courage to lay claim to their own complex inner narratives, are fit to relate to and expose complex conspiratorial truths about the world. One of the problems with the convergence of complex inner and outer narratives is that they take us into confrontation with family hierarchies and key figures and relationships in our lives. Being sensitive and going through this exposes us to being destabilised. Psychological profiling is very advanced these days and used by secret services to try an mirror a persons inner turmoil with events in their working world creating the illusion of a 'global conspiracy'. The purpose is to create a process of derailment which is why having people know too much about the seeming trivia of your life is very dangerous. This is why PRISM – as per the Ed Snowden revelations – is so dammed dangerous. Its like giving your psychological profile and personal details to the Mafia and expecting they'll do nothing with it. Any kind of addiction is also dangerous as is indebtedness. Find a good GP and work through them. Never self-medicate or cultivate addictions. Even a sugar addiction is dangerous, more dangerous than smoking on a psychological level.
Michael Hasting's death needs to be seen as a warning signal to anti-war activists to never be driven to death. It's an issue because those who can't be led can often be driven – from behind. In the car our covert psychological profile effectively goes live. So if you find yourself being driven while driving my advice is to drive like a geriatric and to never respond by accelerating or over-reacting.
I’ll miss Rolling Stone’s reporter Michael Hastings honest, no BS “advocacy journalism” that is sadly lacking among the stenographic mainstream press.
Kelly Vahlos ended her eulogy, “Michael Hastings, Truthteller, Dead at 33,” by writing: “Hastings was lambasted by the establishment hive for supposedly “breaking the rules,” which meant he did his job … I believe his book [“The Operators”] is one of the few “must reads” to come out of the war reportage in that it rankled the powerful while keeping faith with the people, and that’s real journalism. That is why he became a correspondent and why he will be forever remembered as a truthteller. To say he will be missed would be a gross understatement. We are losing so much.”
Last year, Vahlos also wrote a touching tribute (“Carl Prine’s Line of Departure”) to another iconoclastic blogger/reporter who’s been sidelined by disabling migraines he got from IED’s in Anbar. She wrote that Carl Prine “is “one of the good guys, a veteran who obviously loves the military for what it could be and loathes it for what it has been used for… He’s not been right about absolutely everything … and sometimes I think he could go easier on other writers [a reference to Michael Hastings], especially when they have their hearts and heads in the right place. … But he’s always consistent when it counts — in his loyalty to the rank and file and exposing the corruption of power. And that makes him tops with me … because there aren’t a lot of veteran-journalist-critics with his talent willing to write the things he does” [One of Carl’s last columns, “McChrystal Clear” was a caustic review of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s road show; for an archived copy see the post “Never Shall I Fail My Comrades” at the Feral Firefighter blog].
Finally, last year Kelly Vahlos ended her review (“Michael Hastings vs. Team America”) of his 2012 book ”The Operators” on a melancholy note:
“The predominant feeling … is not outrage, nor gleeful satisfaction in seeing everything one suspects about this rotten war confirmed in tawdry black and white detail and in the rise and fall of one of the most celebrated generals in a generation. The overwhelming feeling is, well, sadness. … sadly familiar: a million film plots of mortal men who flew too high and came down with a crash. The rest … is just plain sad.”
As is Michael Hasting’s untimely death in a fiery car crash. … as was the 2007 death of his first fiancée, Andi Parhamovich, who was killed when her car was set on fire in an ambush in Baghdad (see his 2008 book “I Lost My Love in Baghdad”).
In a 2012 Alternet interview Michael Hastings was asked: “are there individual reporters whom you want to call out publicly for their sort of following the Pentagon line and not doing their job?” He replied, “Yeah. I saw a pretty egregious example with the New York Times Pentagon correspondent [Thom Shanker] who literally just published the Pentagon spokesperson's anonymous quotes when he was reporting on my stories … he's got the official line from the Pentagon.”
Shanker wrote the April 2011 NYT piece that claimed a Pentagon investigation had “found no proof of wrongdoing” by Gen. Stanley McChrystal in the events portrayed in Hasting’s 2010 “Rolling Stone” profile. It’s worth noting that three years previously, Shanker had also written written a May 2009 NYT piece that whitewashed Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s key role in the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s 2004 friendly-fire death in Afghanistan.
Just before McChrystal’s June 2009 Senate confirmation as Afghan War commander, the NYT’s published Thom Shanker’s piece, “Nomination of U.S. Afghan Commander Revives Questions in Tillman Case” supposedly “exonerating” McChrystal and claimed he was “cleared of wrongdoing.” Although Shanker’s article was full of official “facts,” he ignored clear evidence of McChrystal‘s culpability [see the posts “More NYT’s Lies Borne Out By Facts, If Not the Truth” and "Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth" at the Feral Firefighter blog].
The evening after his Senate confirmation, McChrystal gave Thom Shanker (& fellow NYT reporter Eric Schmitt) a private tour of his new Pentagon HQ! A few months later, Shanker took a sabbatical as a "writer in residence" at the think-tank CNAS (which worked closely with McChrystal on the Afghan War “surge) and CNAS hosted his 2011 book release party. Isn’t “access” grand!
I didn’t come away from my personal experience with Thom Shanker & the “New York Time’s” with any confidence in our “watchdog” media. As Hastings said, “they call it the Pentagon Press Corps, right? And you sort of think, oh, well it means the people who kind of watch over the Pentagon and perform the media's watchdog function, but no, it's an extension of the Pentagon.”
"In its obituary for the journalist [Michael Hastings]... the New York Times toed a line peddled by the government at the time of the McChrystal scandal by casting some doubt on Hastings’ reporting. The journalist’s widow, Elise Jordan, has been swift to take issue with the Times obit."
- Natasha Lennard, Salon.com (June 20, 2013)
The Time’s obituary for Rolling Stone’s reporter Michael Hastings quoted their Pentagon reporter Thom Shanker whose April 2011 article said the Pentagon “challenged the accuracy of his profile of General [Stanley] McChrystal.” Michael Hasting’s widow, Elise Jordan, objected to the “blatant mischaracterization” in his obituary” and wrote the NYT asking them to make corrections.
In his disingenuous 2013 memoir McChrystal only briefly mentioned the controversy which led to his firing by President Obama [see the post "Never Shall I Fail My Comrades" at the Feral Firefighter blog]. Although McChrystal claimed he “took full responsibility” for the controversy, he blamed Michael Hastings for his supposed lack of fairness and accuracy. However, it's worth noting that McChrystal has repeatedly refused to confirm or deny the accuracy of Hasting’s quotes when questioned by reporters (and was never questioned by the Pentagon investigators).
However, the NYT obituaries editor Bill McDonald refused to make corrections to Hasting’s obituary. He claimed that “it’s not The Times that is questioning the article’s accuracy; it was the Defense Department. We're simply reporting what it publicly said” … “as we must, if we’re going to write an honest obit about him.” Really? His response brings to mind a quote from the film “V for Vendetta” in which a TV broadcaster said, "our job is to report the news, not fabricate it; that's the government's job” (see the post “More Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth” at the Feral Firefighter blog).
In her take on the obit, NYT Public Editor Margaret Sullivan said that “the obituary…is not factually inaccurate, as far as I can tell” …” Unfortunately, Sullivan’s column carefully dodged addressing the crux of the controversy: the truthfulness of his “Rolling Stone” profile of Gen. McChrystal. Sullivan failed to resolve this issue, although she did point out someone cut the original on-line version's final lines that praised Hastings from the print edition (supposedly for "space concerns").
Instead of seeking to discern the truth of the controversy, the Times has once again (as with the Pentagon’s NYT reporter Thom Shanker’s 2009 whitewash of McChrystal’s role in the Pat Tillman cover-up) displayed its stenographic ability to parrot the official government position “borne out by facts, if not the truth.” Stenography in the service of smearing a real journalist after his tragic, early death!
Here's an excerpt, “What Burns Faster, Memories or Flames,” from the post, “More Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth,” at the Feral Firefighter blog:
“A woman I loved [Andi Parhamovich] was killed in Baghdad in January 2007 – al-Qaeda in Iraq took credit for it … The memorial service with me crying over an empty coffin.”
- Michael Hastings, “The Operators” (2012)
. . ..
“Twenty-five hundred degrees Fahrenheit, fire burns down…”
“I find her personal writings and her diary… I find a note that says: ‘career, death card.’ Another, dated January 12, says that she and I will ‘take the journey home together.’”
“The men cannot get the doors open. They cannot get into the car… The grenade doesn’t make a sound when it is dropped… The explosion. In less than a second, the gas tank will catch fire.”
“She sees her life. It all comes at once.”
“There is more noise; there is a loud noise. What is faster, sound or memories?”
“The flames are hot. It is so hot now. What burns faster, memories or flames?”
“She sees what happens. … Her father… holding a picture of her, inconsolable. She sees her mother shaking softly in church, looking at her face, framed in a picture. … She watches her fiancée writing with tears in his eyes.”
“It is almost over now. “
“She sees the rest of her life. She sees the ring. She sees a pure white wedding dress and an aisle. She sees her parents and brothers and sisters and friends smiling proudly. She sees the children and the house. She sees the reunions in Ohio; she feels the warmth and hears the laughter and feels the love for her.”
“The noise continues, but she is gone.”
- Michael Hastings, “I Lost My Love In Baghdad” (2008)
. . .
“… I didn’t think I could love again. I feel very blessed and fortunate that Elise [Jorndan] would have me. The fact that she was able to get past that—I feel pretty lucky.”
- Michael Hastings, from CNN Reliable Sources interview
All theories as to what happened to Michael have been "debunked?" Which ones have even been completely investigated yet? Wow, looks like we're going to have to work on keeping the show's new sources reliable.