Jun
19
2013

Michael Hastings, Bridge-Burning Journalist (1980-2013)

Michael Hastings

What Tim Dickinson called Hastings' "enthusiastic breaches of the conventions of access journalism" were what enabled him to report the unguarded assessments of the officers running the occupation of Afghanistan.

Aug
06
2010

For USA Today, Good Intentions Excuse Civilian Deaths–Unless You're the Taliban

USA Today had a piece yesterday (8/5/10) about new rules of engagement issued in Afghanistan by Afghan War commander Gen. David Petraeus. The new rules–much like the old rules–"are aimed at limiting civilian casualties," the paper's Jim Michaels reports in its own voice, explaining: At the heart of counterinsurgency doctrine is the principle that winning over the population is the key to defeating insurgents. Civilian casualties can alienate the population. That's the surviving population, presumably. USA Today doesn't quote anyone skeptical of the Pentagon's claim that not killing civilians is a top priority, instead reprinting the official assertion of good […]

Jul
16
2010

NYT's John Burns Calls for All the News That's 'Necessary to Report'

New York Times London bureau chief John Burns has joined other high-profile reporters (e.g., CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan) in denouncing fellow journalist Michael Hastings. Hastings' Rolling Stone expose prompted the dismissal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was relieved of his Afghanistan command following Hastings' revelations that he and some of his aides had used insubordinate language in discussing Obama administration superiors. Appearing on Hugh Hewitt's conservative national radio program on July 6, the Times' former Baghdad bureau chief responded to Hewitt's question about how the Rolling Stone story had affected relations between journalists and military officials: I think […]

Jun
28
2010

McChrystal's Media Soldiers Strike Back

Lara Logan on 60 Minutes

It's not that surprising that some in the corporate media, driven either by admiration for ousted Gen. Stanley McChrystal or disdain for Rolling Stone's scoop, have rushed in to defend or explain away his behavior. In Saturday's Washington Post (6/26/10), anonymous military sources tell the newspaper that the comments from McChrystal and his staff were supposed to be off the record: The command's own review of events, said the official, who was unwilling to speak on the record, found "no evidence to suggest" that any of the "salacious political quotes" in the article were made in situations in which ground […]

Jun
24
2010

Trust Me, But Don't Quote Me

The Washington Post (6/23/10) allows an anonymous voice inside the White House to spill the beans on the decision to replace Gen. Stanley McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus: Said a senior administration official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations: "It's as seamless as it could be, not only in terms of operations but also because you put someone in who's widely respected. No one is going to doubt that he's the right guy for the job." Indeed!

Jun
24
2010

Media, Access and McChrystal

The Runaway General: Michael Hastings' Rolling Stone piece on Stanley McChrystal

There's been a discussion (some of it neatly summarized on the Daily Show) of elite journalists' reaction to the explosive comments made by Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his staffers to Rolling Stone freelancer Michael Hastings. One admission came via a Politico story, captured by NYU's Jay Rosen (6/24/10): And as a freelance reporter, Hastings would be considered a bigger risk to be given unfettered access, compared with a beat reporter, who would not risk burning bridges by publishing many of McChrystal's remarks. Rosen notes that this line in the Politico piece was subsequently removed, perhaps because it revealed too much: […]

Jun
24
2010

The Petraeus Surge Narrative Is Back

With Gen. David Petraeus back in the media spotlight after being tapped to take control of the Afghanistan war following General Stanley McChrystal's fall from grace, the corporate media are trumpeting the "successful" surge in Iraq (Extra, 9/10/08) that Petraeus oversaw and are looking to him as the man to turn around the Afghan war. Columnist David Ignatius (Washington Post, 6/24/10) writes: Gen. David Petraeus didn't sign on as the new Afghanistan commander because he expects to lose. That's the boldest aspect of President Obama's decision: He has put a troubled Afghanistan campaign in the hands of a man who […]