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Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Featured, Media, Passages | 3 comments

Death of One of Today’s Top Journalists: Michael Hastings, 33, Dies in Car Crash

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One of today’s top journalists — described repeatedly as totally professional, embracing the highest of old-school journalism standards, fearless, and a role model for aspiring journalists — is now dead. Buzzfeed’s Michael Hastings, 33, died in a car crash in Los Angeles.

Buzzfeed’s full bulletin:

BuzzFeed is saddened to report that Michael Hastings died in a car accident early this morning in Los Angeles. He was 33.

Ben Smith, BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief, said in a statement:
We are shocked and devastated by the news that Michael Hastings is gone. Michael was a great, fearless journalist with an incredible instinct for the story, and a gift for finding ways to make his readers care about anything he covered from wars to politicians. He wrote stories that would otherwise have gone unwritten, and without him there are great stories that will go untold. Michael was also a wonderful, generous colleague, a joy to work with and a lover of corgis — especially his Bobby Sneakers. Our thoughts are with Elise and and the rest of his family and we are going to miss him.

Part of Rolling Stone’s story:

Michael Hastings, the fearless journalist whose reporting brought down the career of General Stanley McChrystal, has died in a car accident in Los Angeles, Rolling Stone has learned. He was 33.

Hastings’ unvarnished 2010 profile of McChrystal in the pages of Rolling Stone, “The Runaway General,” captured the then-supreme commander of the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan openly mocking his civilian commanders in the White House. The maelstrom sparked by its publication concluded with President Obama recalling McChrystal to Washington and the general resigning his post. “The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be met by – set by a commanding general,” Obama said, announcing McChrystal’s departure. “It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system.”

Hastings’ hallmark as reporter was his refusal to cozy up to power. While other embedded reporters were charmed by McChrystal’s bad-boy bravado and might have excused his insubordination as a joke, Hastings was determined to expose the recklessness of a man leading what Hastings believed to be a reckless war. “Runaway General” was a finalist for a National Magazine Award, won the 2010 Polk award for magazine reporting, and was the basis for Hastings’ book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan.

For Hastings, there was no romance to America’s misbegotten wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He had felt the horror of war first-hand: While covering the Iraq war for Newsweek in early 2007, his then-fianceé, an aide worker, was killed in a Baghdad car bombing. Hastings memorialized that relationship in his first book, I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story.

Go to the link to read the rest.

Los Angeles Times report on the accident:

Journalist Michael Hastings, best known for a Rolling Stone feature that led to the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, died early Tuesday in a car crash in Los Angeles, his employer said.

Neither the Los Angeles Police Department nor coroner’s officials could immediately confirm whether Hastings was the victim of a single-car crash that occurred about 4:25 a.m. in the 600 block of North Highland Avenue. Police officials said it was the only vehicle fatality reported Tuesday morning in the city of Los Angeles.

The vehicle crossed a median, struck a tree and burst into flames in the Hancock Park area, LAPD Officer Christopher No said. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

Coroner’s officials said they could not immediately identify the victim, saying the body was burned beyond recognition. Without identification or next of kin, neither the LAPD nor the coroner’s department could officially identify the body found in the vehicle.

But in a statement released Tuesday afternoon, BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith confirmed that Hastings died earlier in an L.A. car crash, saying his team was “shocked and devastated by the news.”

The Huffington Post:

The journalism world reacted with horror at the sudden death of Michael Hastings on Tuesday.

Hastings, who was just 33 years old, was killed in a car crash in Los Angeles early Tuesday morning.

He rocketed to instant fame when his piece in Rolling Stone brought down Stanley McChrystal, the top-ranking general in Afghanistan, in 2010. Since then, Hastings was a regular presence in print and on television, a frequent critic of the Obama administration and an aggressive and enthusiastic debater. In recent years, the war correspondent had turned his focus to domestic politics, bringing the same independent spirit to the campaign trail.






Hastings on CNN: