Michael Hastings, journalist for Buzzfeed and Rolling Stone, was killed in a fiery LA car crash early Tuesday morning. The young award-winning reporter was always chasing a story.
Hastings, 33, received recognition when he wrote “Runaway General”, the 2010 story about General Stanley McChrystal. McChrystal was admonished by President Obama after the article was published and later resigned in the days following the report.
McChrystal’s acerbic tongue and sharp view on soldiers and the war in Afghanistan was highlighted by Hastings gift for finding the truth, “‘I’d rather have my ass kicked by a roomful of people than go out to this dinner,’ McChrystal says. He pauses a beat. ‘Unfortunately,’ he adds, ‘no one in this room could do it.’
With that, he’s out the door.
‘Who’s he going to dinner with?’ I ask one of his aides.
‘Some French minister,’ the aide tells me. ‘It’s fucking gay.’” (rollingstone.com)
Witnesses at the scene of the crash reported seeing a car speeding down the street, cross over the median, then strike a tree and burst into flames. One man had a watering hose and tried to douse the flames and help the occupant but was unsuccessful.
Nearby residents in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles of area where the accident occurred, were able to hear the explosion, drawing them out of their houses.
The engine was thrown 50 to 60 feet clear of the vehicle. One witness, moviemaker Gary Grossman, said he could not have written a movie scene like this accident.
Ben Smith, Buzzfeed’s Editor-in Chief, wrote about Hasting’s, “We are shocked and devastated by the news that Michael Hastings is gone,” he went on to comment, “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.” (cbsnews.com)
In his 33 years, Hastings had already seen a lot as a journalist; he authored a book about his then fiancé, an aide worker, Andi Parhamovich, who was killed in a car bombing while he covered the war in Iraq for Newsweek. I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story is about his relationship with Parhamovich and their plans for the future, their fear for each other’s safety, and how it all ended in catastrophe.
Hastings was a regular contributor to Gentleman’s Quarterly (GQ), a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, and a journalist for Buzzfeed. From 2002 – 2008, he reported for Newsweek.
The Huffington Post called Hastings “a game changer” for his reporting. He was also a recipient of The George Polk Award for his writing. The Polk Awards are a series of Journalism awards that are presented annually by Long Island University in categories such as foreign reporting, photojournalism, state reporting, and magazine reporting.
Hastings is survived by wife, journalist Elsie Jordan. The two were married in Hernando, Mississippi in May 2011. In 2008 – 2009, Jordan was a speechwriter for Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
Authorities initially were unable to confirm that it was Hastings who died in the fiery LA crash; however, it was later determined to be the young journalist who perished at the scene. Always chasing the story.
By Dawn Cranfield
Senior Correspondent / Product Specialist