Michael Hastings. (AP Photo/Blue Rider Press/Penguin)
The prolific and courageous journalist Michael Hastings, formerly of Newsweek, more recently of Rolling Stone and Buzzfeed, has died at the age of 33 in an auto accident in Los Angeles, Buzzfeed reported tonight. Via Twitter and other online outlets, hundreds of fellow journalists expressed shock and sadness. Watch Rachel Maddow’s personal tribute tonight.
Piers Morgan on his CNN show asked guests Glenn Greenwald and Dan Ellsberg to comment—they agreed it was “a tremendous loss to journalism,” and then Morgan offered his own tribute. Jay Rosen tweeted: “A glitch in the operating system of the American press allows realism to output as deference. Michael Hastings didn’t have that.” Even novelist Walter Kirn responded: “I am so sad to hear of the death of Michael Hastings, a fine, brave reporter who made a difference and will be missed terribly by all.”
Rolling Stone has just added its own obit. The LA Times speculates on the accident—and carries details and photo of the site—but they’re not sure that’s really it. Local TV covered the same crash and seems more certain.
Much will be written about Hastings in the hours and days to come, and I’ll have more below. But for now, I don’t have much to add, except recalling that we exchanged several e-mails back in the days before he made such a fuss with his Stanley McChrystal scoop.
It was maybe six or seven years ago, and he was just back from Baghdad; I was editing Editor & Publisher and writing almost daily stories on Iraq and the media and my book So Wrong for So Long, and he needed some advice about a projected book. Relatively few know about his first book, about his courtship and life with a woman (who worked for Air America). They both ended up in Iraq, where she lost her life. The book was I Lost My Love in Baghdad, and it was pretty much ignored until his later fame. So that’s a reminder.