Most obituaries about Michael Hastings' (shown in photo) untimely death in a high-speed single-car crash at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning in Los Angeles mentioned his primary and most visible contribution to investigative journalism: his authorship of "The Runaway General" in Rolling Stone magazine which led almost immediately to the dismissal of General Stanley McChrystal by President Obama on June 23, 2010. The president referred directly to Hastings' article:
The conduct represented in the recently published article [in Rolling Stone] does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system. And it erodes the trust that’s necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan.
Admirers said his reporting of General McChrystal’s rude behavior and mocking attitude toward his commander-in-chief and his staff was pure Hastings: indefatigable, irascible, offensive, and honest. Rolling Stone, in its announcement of Hastings' death, wrote that Hastings' “hallmark as a reporter was his refusal to cozy up to power. He had little patience for flacks and spinmeisters and will be remembered for his enthusiastic breaches of the conventions of access journalism.”
Hastings spoke earlier this year at the Burlington, Vermont, Book Festival and told his audience that he didn't believe in objectivity in journalism. Instead, he explained, “What I try to do is be intellectually honest in my writing.”
Although known primarily for writing incisively about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he attacked other topics just as fearlessly. Said BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief, for whom Hastings had worked for only a few months before his death, "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."
BuzzFeed gave Hastings credit for exposing McChrystal for his arrogance and condescension to his superiors:
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Photo of Michael Hastings: AP Images