Tags: Hastings | journalist | McChrystal | Wall Street

Remembering Journalist Michael Hastings

By    |   Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 07:11 AM

Friends of Michael Hastings and his widow Elise Jordan, a journalist and former speechwriter for Condoleezza Rice, gathered at a Barnes & Noble store in New York June 28 to celebrate the life of Hastings, the former Newsweek reporter who was killed in a one-car automobile accident a year ago at the age of 33. There is some speculation that Hastings' death was not accidental, but Jordan has discouraged it.

The format was that designated speakers, mostly in the media business, led by Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, told stories about how they met Hastings, worked with him, ultimately became friends and miss his expletive-laden phone calls in the middle of the night. After his death, a novel based on life in the media world was found and published, and copies were for sale at the event.

Hastings achieved fame when his article on Gen. Stanley McChrystal for Rolling Stone led to McChrystal's dismissal as head of U.S. operations in Afghanistan. He was also working on the Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl story that has now burst onto the front pages with Bergdahl's recent controversial release.

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Speakers recalled that Hastings was upset that the attention generated by McChrystal's firing obscured the story of the dysfunctional behavior Hastings revealed. They also noted that Hastings was gifted with an instinct for indentifying powerful stories and getting sources to open up to him.

Readers may want to follow the link below to the video and see if they find the story compelling once they start watching. Advisory: the video is laced with the same purple language that Hastings used that may be a hallmark of millennial journalism.

Speakers told of the disdain Hastings had for journalists who seemed to enjoy special access to the White House in return for propagating the message the Obama people wanted people to see on Sunday talk shows and other network news programs. The favorite target for this ridicule was NBC's Chuck Todd.

A good opportunity to see the spin game in action is developing in the wake of the recent publication of Michael Lewis' Flash Boys. Because he has built a franchise as a critic of Wall Street, congressmen have sought to piggyback on his publicity by holding hearings, and a moment of gripping political theory occurs when a committee chairman stares into the camera and asks, "Are the equity markets rigged?"

If the witness is Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Mary Jo White, the answer must be no, followed by a list of all of the efforts the SEC is conducting in order to fulfill the stated mission of the agency. This includes a new project to examine all of the manifold issues that fall under the heading of Market Structure.

This opportunity to get behind the spin of a dysfunctional agency and its apologists is one Michael Hastings might have enjoyed that might be an outlet for some of the young journalists who were inspired by his passion for disruptive journalism.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Robert-Feinberg
Friends of Michael Hastings and his widow Elise Jordan, a journalist and former speechwriter for Condoleezza Rice, gathered to celebrate the life of Hastings, the former Newsweek reporter who was killed in a one-car automobile accident a year ago at the age of 33.
Hastings, journalist, McChrystal, Wall Street
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2014-11-22
Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 07:11 AM
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