Award-winning journalist Michael Hastings dies in car crash

Reporter’s profile of general McChrystal led to the end of his 34-year military career


Michael Hastings, the award-winning freelance reporter who died Tuesday at 33, was known for an intrepid, gonzo-style journalism that took him to war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq and, most famously, brought down a US army general.

His death, in a car crash in Los Angeles at about 4.30am, was confirmed by his wife, Elise Jordan. Hastings was believed to have been alone in the car, which struck a tree at high speed, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office. He lived in New York City.

In 2010, Hastings won a George Polk Award, presented annually by Long Island University for reporting in the public interest.

The award honoured his Rolling Stone magazine cover story, The Runaway General, published that June.

In it, Hastings profiled general Stanley A McChrystal, then the top commander of US forces in Afghanistan.

The article quoted the general and members of his staff making disparaging comments about members of the Obama administration, including vice president Joe Biden, with respect to their handling of the Afghan campaign.

Within days of its publication, president Barack Obama met with McChrystal in the Oval Office before firing him, ending his 34-year military career.

An inquiry into Hastings’ article by the Defense Department inspector general the next year found “insufficient” evidence of wrongdoing by the general, his military aides and civilian advisers.

The inspector general’s report also questioned the accuracy of some aspects of the article, which was repeatedly defended by Hastings and Rolling Stone.

Hastings was a contributing editor at Rolling Stone at the time of his death and had also written for GQ and Newsweek magazines. Michael Mahon Hastings was born January 28th, 1980, in Malone, NY.

After attending Connecticut College, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from New York University. As a young correspondent for Newsweek, Hastings covered the Iraq War.

His fiancée, Andrea Parhamovich, followed him there, taking a job with a nongovernmental organisation. She was killed in 2007 when her car was ambushed by Sunni insurgents.

Hastings’ memoir of the experience, I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story, was published in 2008. Besides his wife, Hastings is survived by his parents, Brent and Molly Hastings; two brothers, Jeff and Jon; and his grandmother, Ruth Mahon Hastings.

His other books are The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan, published last year, and Panic 2012: The Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story of Obama’s Final Campaign, published in January.

New York Times