Michael Hastings, most recently of Buzzfeed but well-known and respected for his reporting in Rolling Stone, Newsweek, and elsewhere, has died at the age of 33. According to Buzzfeed, he was killed in a car accident early this morning in Los Angeles. According to the LA Times, Hastings was living in LA and reporting on national security and the entertainment industry at the time of his death.
Rolling Stone's obituary of Hastings hits on just how much he contributed to journalism, and more importantly, to our understanding of power:
"Hard-charging, unabashedly opinionated, Hastings was original and at times abrasive. He had little patience for flacks and spinmeisters and will be remembered for his enthusiastic breaches of the conventions of access journalism. In a memorable exchange with Hillary Clinton aide Philippe Reines in the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks, Hastings' aggressive line of questioning angered Reines. "Why do you bother to ask questions you've already decided you know the answers to?" Reines asked. "Why don't you give answers that aren't bullshit for a change?" Hastings replied."
Minutes after the knowledge of his death became public, tributes started pouring out all over Twitter. Rachel Maddow spoke at length about Hastings on her show tonight (via Buzzfeed):
Here's Buzzfeed's statement, tweeted out by the site's editor Ben Smith:
"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 and a joy to work with. Our thoughts are with Elise and and the rest of his family and we are going to miss him."
If you didn't know his name, which you should, you know his reporting. Hastings wrote the 2010 Rolling Stone profile on Stanley A. McChrystal that led to the general losing his job. Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana described him this way:
"Great reporters exude a certain kind of electricity...the sense that there are stories burning inside them, and that there's no higher calling or greater way to live life than to be always relentlessly trying to find and tell those stories. I'm sad that I'll never get to publish all the great stories that he was going to write, and sad that he won't be stopping by my office for any more short visits which would stretch for two or three completely engrossing hours. He will be missed."
Here's Hastings, tearing into Piers Morgan and his panel over General Petraeus's record in Afghanistan and Iraq:
Hastings authored two books. His first book, I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story, was about the death of his fiancée in Iraq. His second, The Operators, returned to and expanded on the story of McChrystal. Longform has a good list of some of Hastings's most significant articles, including an interview with Julian Assange, and an exposé on America's drone war.