RIP
June 18, 2013 9:00 PM   Subscribe

Journalist Michael Hastings has died in a car accident at the age of 33. Hastings' best known piece, a profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal (previously), was instrumental in McChrystal being dismissed as commander of US forces in Afghanistan. A tribute to Hastings from Rolling Stone, and a collection of remembrances from his colleagues at Buzzfeed.
posted by Cash4Lead (124 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by to sir with millipedes at 9:01 PM on June 18, 2013


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posted by Cash4Lead at 9:02 PM on June 18, 2013


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posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 9:02 PM on June 18, 2013


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posted by strixus at 9:07 PM on June 18, 2013


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posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:08 PM on June 18, 2013


This is just. I can't.

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posted by sweetkid at 9:09 PM on June 18, 2013


He was good. The world needs more of him.
posted by Cyrano at 9:10 PM on June 18, 2013


Oh no. He was a good journalist and he was too damn young to die.

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posted by homunculus at 9:11 PM on June 18, 2013


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posted by immlass at 9:11 PM on June 18, 2013


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posted by lalochezia at 9:11 PM on June 18, 2013


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posted by figurant at 9:13 PM on June 18, 2013


He lost his love in Baghdad in 2007. On writing the book:
"It wasn't bittersweet. It was mostly bitter," he says. "But do you curl up in a ball, or do you move forward? At the end of the day, I was lucky to have found someone to love me as much as she did. 'Lucky' sounds funny, I guess, but that's the way I feel." [snip] "As much as anyone possibly can, I get life," says Hastings, who has not dated anyone since Andi's death. "My struggle now is not to be bitter. How many times can you get knocked down and get up again? Andi would want me to keep going.
posted by maggieb at 9:19 PM on June 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


Hastings' best known piece, a profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal

He also wrote this piece about Petraeus last November:

The Sins Of General David Petraeus: Petraeus seduced America. We should never have trusted him.
posted by homunculus at 9:22 PM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Rachel Maddow: Michael Hastings, fearless
posted by homunculus at 9:27 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is horrible, horrible news.
posted by Busithoth at 9:27 PM on June 18, 2013


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posted by arcticseal at 9:31 PM on June 18, 2013


Not enough fearless journalists around anymore. Definitely not enough to be losing someone of his calibre.

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posted by chris88 at 9:35 PM on June 18, 2013


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posted by brianstorms at 9:36 PM on June 18, 2013


Cruel fucking Universe.

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posted by dbiedny at 9:37 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by Schmucko at 9:37 PM on June 18, 2013


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posted by volk at 9:38 PM on June 18, 2013


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posted by wallabear at 9:39 PM on June 18, 2013


A terrible, terrible loss.

(And eerie: he died on a stretch of Highland Avenue in L.A. that's on my drive home every night. There were scorch marks in front of the house where the accident happened.)
posted by scody at 9:47 PM on June 18, 2013


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posted by humanfont at 9:50 PM on June 18, 2013


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posted by goshling at 10:10 PM on June 18, 2013


Where exactly on Highland did this happen?

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posted by phaedon at 10:11 PM on June 18, 2013


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posted by Plug1 at 10:12 PM on June 18, 2013


Where exactly on Highland did this happen?

Between Melrose and Clinton -- so in Larchmont Village right before it turns into Hollywood.

posted by scody at 10:18 PM on June 18, 2013


There is a map in this article. There's also video of the fire. A witness said he was driving very fast.

What an awful tragedy.
posted by torticat at 10:20 PM on June 18, 2013


His last article on Buzzfeed, June 7th:

Why Democrats Love To Spy On Americans: Besides Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, most Democrats abandoned their civil liberty positions during the age of Obama. With a new leak investigation looming, the Democrat leadership are now being forced to confront all the secrets they’ve tried to hide.
posted by homunculus at 10:23 PM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Marc Ambinder: Michael Hastings was the type of national security reporter I didn't have the guts to be.
posted by delmoi at 10:50 PM on June 18, 2013


Ah!
posted by infini at 10:51 PM on June 18, 2013


A heartfelt remembrance of Hastings by Buzzfeed's editor-in-chief:
"In a way, Michael was born too late: He wrote with the sort of commitment of the generation of reporters shaped by the government’s lies about Vietnam, not by the triumphalism of the 1990s or the reflexive patriotism of the years after 9/11. He was surer than most of us that power is, presumptively, not to be trusted."

An interview with Hastings in Guernica magazine:
"Shit, the only thing I’ve ever regretted is not writing more; not being more honest; not saying how it really is. It’s hard to get there sometimes."

Reddit Ask Me Anything with Hastings:
"I've found that if people know you're trying to get as close to the truth as possible, and the analysis is correct, and what you're writing is intellectually honest, then they are willing to engage you as a reporter, even if you're critical of their policies."
posted by mokin at 11:04 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the Buzzfeed article:
Michael’s most famous story, the one that got General Stanley McChrystal fired, was a great yarn, but it was also about something: A military leadership that had turned its tactical sophistication inward, and trapped a president it disdained into a war he didn’t want to fight. The story helped push the American government to pull out of Afghanistan, not because a general said some bad words, but because those words conveyed the general’s sense of superiority to his civilian masters.
posted by delmoi at 11:13 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cenk Uygur just now on Hastings, and how his reporting affected the war in Afghanistan.
posted by delmoi at 11:19 PM on June 18, 2013


for location above: Larchmont Village Hancock Park
posted by scody at 11:39 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by gkhan at 3:05 AM on June 19, 2013


-30-
posted by hal9k at 3:33 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:14 AM on June 19, 2013


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posted by frijole at 4:20 AM on June 19, 2013


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Hmmmmm.
posted by spitbull at 4:25 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not clear from the links, but the accident was explosive. This local TV news report includes amateur footage of the car engulfed in flames (0:40) and an eyewitness report that the engine was blown "50, 60 yards" away from the car. Another witness says, "It sounded like a bomb went off in the middle of the night. My house shook, the windows were rattling."

I'm seeing conspiracy stuff about the death on Twitter, so thought it was worth noting the details of the accident, which are probably partly to blame.
posted by mediareport at 4:39 AM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


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How very sad for all of us.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:14 AM on June 19, 2013


I don't think it is an unreasonable position to consider this accident suspiscious. The man had many enemies. There needs to be an investigation.
posted by humanfont at 5:17 AM on June 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


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posted by X-Himy at 5:38 AM on June 19, 2013


I don't think it is an unreasonable position to consider this accident suspiscious. The man had many enemies. There needs to be an investigation.

Yeah, i'm not one for conspiracy theory, but with everything that's been happening and coming to light lately, it's the first thing i thought. Plus, i've witnessed some pretty horrific accidents, and not one ended up in flames or sounding like a bomb went off. Although i have to admit if anything fishy did happen, any investigation would be covered up, swept under the rug, etc.
posted by usagizero at 5:44 AM on June 19, 2013


Absolutely heartbreaking. He was one of those few journalists left still worth his salt, and one of the youngest of them as well. I typically prefer to analyze real conspiracies than theorize possibly fictional ones but contrived automobile collisions are nothing new and I do wonder about this.
posted by samuelcramer at 5:54 AM on June 19, 2013


That Buzzfeed obit was really well written and informative.

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posted by josher71 at 6:12 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by schmod at 6:13 AM on June 19, 2013


I have alternatively seen reported that Hastings was married to a woman named Elise, but also that he had not dated since his fiancee, Andi's death. I'm not sure which is true (I assume he was married, as that information came from Buzzfeed), but it's very strange.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:24 AM on June 19, 2013


The information I saw about him not dating, uh, dated back to when his book about Andi's death was released. So things may well have changed in the meantime.

I'm really sorry to hear that this happened, he was young and brilliant and we needed more journalists like him.
posted by lydhre at 6:29 AM on June 19, 2013


This makes me feel uncomfortable.
posted by srboisvert at 6:36 AM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by getawaysticks at 6:51 AM on June 19, 2013


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posted by arkham_inmate_0801 at 6:53 AM on June 19, 2013


Strange that he was a prolific tweeter until five days before the accident, when he stopped. Sad that Occam's razor now slices this way for me.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:55 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have seen the aftermath of a head-on freeway collision with a car in serious flames (like shooting 10' up out of the hood) so I don't think it's impossible that Hastings just crashed and the car went up on its own. But my gut said "convenient timing" when I saw this story. On the third hand, when is it not convenient for those in power when a daring investigative reporter dies? So I don't believe he was murdered without more proof, but on the other hand, I don't rule it completely out.

I am also sad that I consider it reasonable to consider whether the agents of my government may have murdered an inconvenient American journalist instead of dismissing the prospect out of hand. (And sorry that I'm pretty sure they'd do it in a heartbeat to the right foreign one, too, fwiw.)
posted by immlass at 7:06 AM on June 19, 2013 [18 favorites]


This is a huge blow. I'd been following him and his writing for a while, and he was one of those old-timey investigative reporters - fearless, insightful, and an excellent writer. I was stunned when I found out yesterday. What a tragic loss for us all.

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posted by gemmy at 7:07 AM on June 19, 2013


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I heard about the accident on my way to work yesterday morning and that they had closed Highland so I avoided it on my way in. I am so sorry to hear this was Michael Hastings.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:37 AM on June 19, 2013


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posted by fremen at 7:46 AM on June 19, 2013


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posted by General Malaise at 8:28 AM on June 19, 2013


One of my favorite moments of his:

Hillary Clinton aide Philippe Reines: "Why do you bother to ask questions you've already decided you know the answers to?"

Hastings: "Why don't you give answers that aren't bullshit for a change?"

I'm gonna miss that gadfly.
posted by General Malaise at 8:31 AM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


" ... a brand new Mercedes." -- from the news story linked above
posted by hank at 8:45 AM on June 19, 2013


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posted by Gelatin at 8:46 AM on June 19, 2013


My "hmmmm" above was my exercise of restraint, but since we are saying it, yeah fucking right it was accidental.

But it can't be the US government because we all know they would never kill an American citizen from afar without due process of law. Right?

Oh wait.


Wonder what leak he was working on.
posted by spitbull at 8:47 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know, the tin foil hat conspiracy would be a little more valid to me if he weren't driving at 4:30 in the morning.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:49 AM on June 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sorry to hear about this. Much to young.

Now, can the speculation be stopped until an investigation is complete? This isn't the first time I've heard of cars catching fire after high-speed accidents (a high-profile one happened a down the street from where I'm living now, years ago--image is stuck in my head forever).
posted by raysmj at 8:52 AM on June 19, 2013


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posted by lord_wolf at 9:07 AM on June 19, 2013


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Hastings was a gifted journalist, but also had his problems as a self-described "recovering drunk/addict/screw-up."

RIP
posted by BobbyVan at 9:18 AM on June 19, 2013


Michael Hastings Dies at 33; Fearless Journalist Challenged Power & Exposed Myths of Afghan War
posted by homunculus at 10:19 AM on June 19, 2013


The reporter gristmill has it that he was working on an exposé of the CIA. I don't believe this was an accident, and I'm willing to publicly wear that tin foil hat.
posted by dejah420 at 10:31 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I'm worried about all the unaccountable S.O.B.s who'll never have to worry about Michael Hastings reporting on them. Reporters: Give them something to worry about."
posted by scody at 10:34 AM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


While people can say the witnesses were plants, etc., I have seen the immediate aftermath of a car hitting a tree when it was going extremely fast. It did make a huge noise (and I saw someone take a turn badly at about 30 mph, drill a parked car and that sound was plenty loud.)

By the way, there were two people in the car that had the big wreck; they both died, had no chance at all.

Those things aside, if someone was out to kill him, I assume they woulda made it look like a carjacking or some such.
posted by ambient2 at 11:48 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


From the Wikleaks "verified" Twitter account: Michael Hastings death has a very serious non-public complication. We will have more details later.
posted by BobbyVan at 12:03 PM on June 19, 2013


> Now, can the speculation be stopped until an investigation is complete?

I think it's important to publicly express interest and skepticism about the official story from the very start. We want to make sure we get a transparent and convincing investigation, we want the authorities to take it seriously, and sitting down and shutting up is not a way to accomplish this.

Occam's Razor indicates that the most likely explanation is exactly as it appears - a single car accident, mostly likely due to "lost control of the vehicle" (by far the most common reason for single car accidents). But Occam's Razor is just a guide and is not infallible.

Due to the sensitivity of this reporter's position, a transparent and complete investigation is essential, and publicity is exactly what will help guarantee this.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:11 PM on June 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Suppose we heard about this happening in a "third world" country. A journalist who challenged a military general for ridiculing an elected civilian, well, his car blew up ya see. BUT he was going fast in the early morning and rumor has it he TOOK DRUGS!
posted by telstar at 1:48 PM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


The coroners haven't even had a chance to rule on a cause of death before the druge abuse allegations roll on out. Got to love it.
posted by RedShrek at 2:55 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Matt Taibbi: Michael Hastings, Reporter
posted by homunculus at 3:38 PM on June 19, 2013


Spencer Ackerman: Michael Hastings: my friend and his enemies. Hastings was fearless and shook things up – especially with his McChrystal expose. The haters in the media couldn't forgive him
posted by homunculus at 3:46 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


There doesn't seem to be an official story yet. The coroners report and accident investigation is ongoing. My understanding is that the body hasn't even been positively identified yet.
posted by humanfont at 4:33 PM on June 19, 2013


He could have been working on something big and still gotten into a car accident. Hopefully he kept other people in the loop.
posted by delmoi at 5:04 PM on June 19, 2013


I don't know, the tin foil hat conspiracy would be a little more valid to me if he weren't driving at 4:30 in the morning.

Yes, and reportedly at 100mph. (I think that's what the witness said who saw him coming.) NOT that a witness could actually know his speed, but he could certainly know he was driving scary fast.
posted by torticat at 5:33 PM on June 19, 2013


This is apparently the video of him running a red light at Highland & Santa Monica, 4 blocks (half a mile) north of Melrose, a few seconds before the crash.
posted by scody at 5:37 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by rogueepicurean at 6:31 PM on June 19, 2013


I am also sad that I consider it reasonable to consider whether the agents of my government may have murdered an inconvenient American journalist instead of dismissing the prospect out of hand. (And sorry that I'm pretty sure they'd do it in a heartbeat to the right foreign one, too, fwiw.)

It's a shitty world we live in, and it has always been dangerous to speak truth to power.

RIP MH
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posted by BlueHorse at 6:32 PM on June 19, 2013


Wikileaks: Michael Hastings contacted WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson just a few hours before he died, saying that the FBI was investigating him.

It will be interesting to see what the FOIA brings up.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:38 PM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Goodness, scody. Do you know what Loudlabs News is? I think that's the same source I linked to earlier.

I don't think the accident was set up, but I do hope we learn the circumstances leading up to it. Very scary and sad.
posted by torticat at 6:48 PM on June 19, 2013


torticat: I don't know what Loudlabs is, either. I got the link from the comments in the LA Weekly article.
posted by scody at 6:57 PM on June 19, 2013


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posted by antonymous at 7:20 PM on June 19, 2013


This is apparently the video of him running a red light at Highland & Santa Monica yt , 4 blocks (half a mile) north of Melrose, a few seconds before the crash.
Jesus - There's also this video he shot after getting out of the car. That poor guy with that tiny garden hose trying to put out the fire.

Their extended description indicates they were in the area for some reason having to do with Justin Beiber hitting a pedestrian earlier that night.
All of our work vehicles are equipped with dash-cams. Out of pure luck......his dash-cam caught a Mercedes Benz at a high rate of speed run the red light travelling south on Highland. Melrose is just a few blocks away and impact took place just seconds after.

He said he did not see the car run the red light. When leaving the parking lot he headed east on Santa Monica Blvd. 30 seconds after leaving the gas station parking lot, the "call" hits the radios. It was a total of 4 minutes from the time the car was caught on dash-cam to when he saw the flames and shortly after arrived on scene and asks about the driver to the homeowner with the water hose.
Also, it does seem strange to me that a late model Mercedes Benz would just burst into flames immediately on impact like that. Aren't cars much safer these days? When you see major crashes in auto racing typically the driver is OK and the car is never immediately engulfed in flames like that, even if the outer shell of the car is destroyed.

The front of the car is designed to crumple and absorb the impact, leaving the passenger compartment safe here's a good video going over modern crash testing and safety design. Here's another video from the British TV show Fifth Gear (not Top Gear) crashing a cheap car built to modern safety specs vs. a a used Volvo (which looks like it's from the 90s) - it really shows how much safer newer cars are. The people in the Volvo would have been crushed, while the modern car's passenger cell is almost completely intact (while the engine compartment is gone).

According to this article the engine flew 100 feet out of the car, and that having the engine fly out could cause the gas lines to rupture causing the fire. But you would think that would be something modern safety engineers would try to prevent from occurring.

I don't know if there's any way to determine if he'd been drinking if the body was that badly burned.
posted by delmoi at 8:16 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Michael Hastings Conspiracy Theories: Car Accident And Dead Body Fuel Speculation On Reddit, Twitter
While the journalistic community has largely reacted to the news with an outpouring of grief, online forums have been running wild with conspiracy theories, and why wouldn’t they? Some of the details surrounding the story read like a poorly written political thriller. As of Wednesday morning, the Los Angeles County coroner's office had still not determined that an “unrecognizable” body pulled from a fiery solo car crash was actually Hastings, according to the Los Angeles Times. (The body is identified only as “John Doe 117.”)

Meanwhile, LA Weekly reports that Hastings was reporting extensively on the CIA at the time of his death, and the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald pointed out that Hastings’ last article for BuzzFeed was on the NSA and the Democrats’ love for spying on Americans.
posted by delmoi at 8:26 PM on June 19, 2013


Admit it, Michael Hastings’ Death is Weird and Scary

A provocative post, although I think if you read the updates at the bottom (and you should, they're more informative than the speculation in the post itself), Hastings' death looks less weird and scary than it might have otherwise. Still, one thing not mentioned here so far is the evidence that Hastings had expressed support for and was working on a story about Barrett Brown, and was planning to visit him in prison soon.

Also, I like this from the final update:

Though I don’t generally embrace most conspiracy theories, I also don’t find knee-jerk anti-conspiracism any more thoughtful or satisfying if it isn’t predicated on something weightier than the assumed essential decency of the state and its agents, or presumed knowingness about how conspiracies work or don’t. This has always struck me as a form of exceptionalism that ignores both our own domestic history and this country’s foreign policy now and in the past.

I don’t think reflexive, a-historic, exceptionalist defenses of the state are something that radicals should countenance without grounds, particularly when these defenses aim to belittle and stigmatize people who are more suspicious. To me it is far more realistic to credit the state with limitless ruthlessness in maintaining control — even with flawed theories — than to keep insisting that everything wrong is ‘right out in the open.’

I posted this in part as resistance against the silencing aspect of anti-conspiracism and also on the assumption that people are more likely to draw more correct conclusions about the incident if they have the opportunity to discuss it.

posted by mediareport at 8:49 PM on June 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


On the other hand. He's a guy with a new German sedan capable of attaining great speed. There was no traffic, and it was early in the morning when there are not many cops out. The idea that he decided to put the hammer down, lost control and hit a tree at a ridiculous rate of speed seems possible.
posted by humanfont at 9:20 PM on June 19, 2013


Admit it, Michael Hastings’ Death is Weird and Scary
Some quotes in the article:
I perform accident investigations for the NY State Troopers and for many law firms and District Attorneys. We have investigated hundreds of accidents and only one ended up in an explosion. That happened when a drunk driver crossed the double yellow line in a F550 Flatbed and went head on into a Dodge Neon. We did have a few fires caused by a collision.
And from another person:
I’ve seen dozens of cars hit walls and stuff at high speeds and the number of them that I have observed to eject their powertrains and immediately catch massive fire is, um, ah, zero. Modern cars are very good at not catching fire in accidents. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which is an evolutionary design from a company known for sweating the safety details over and above the Euro NCAP requirements, should be leading the pack in the not-catching-on-fire category.
I actually looked up the stats and found this PDF indicating just about 278 people died in car fires started by crashes, compared to like 40,000 a year killed in crashes overall. (Specifically, 480 deaths a year, and 58% of those deaths were from fires where a collision or rollover were a causal factor - as opposed to simply randomly catching fire due to various problems)

So basically if you die due to a car crash, there's only a 0.66% chance the cause was a fire.

Plus, like I said it was a brand new Mercedes, not an early 70s lambo or something (which can apparently catch fire just driving down the street...)

Seriously, how many of those post-crash fires are late model luxury cars? I would guess most car fires are in older cars that are falling a part and not built to modern safety standards, like the aforementioned lambo. I'm just wondering about the statistics - it wouldn't surprise me if this was the only one.

Even if it was just a freak accident, the fire needs to be investigated simply as a public safety issue. There may be some serious defect with the car and it might need to be recalled.
posted by delmoi at 9:24 PM on June 19, 2013


On the other hand. He's a guy with a new German sedan capable of attaining great speed. There was no traffic, and it was early in the morning when there are not many cops out. The idea that he decided to put the hammer down, lost control and hit a tree at a ridiculous rate of speed seems possible.
Sure, and maybe he died on impact. But the fact the car caught fire and was engulfed 2 minutes after the crash seems very unusual to me.
posted by delmoi at 9:27 PM on June 19, 2013


That dashboard camera video linked above is... creepy.

I have to say that this death is seeming SO bizarre that you could argue that it's hard to believe that if "someone" were trying to kill him that they'd be so very sloppy.

But arguing "Group X is too smart, they'd never do that" doesn't really have a good track record, does it?

Again, I'm not sure what to think and I hope that there will be a full and transparent investigation.

Lots of freaky news today - see this. It's all very disturbing.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:34 PM on June 19, 2013


It might depend on the particular car brand and model. This is in the news this week:

Chrysler Agrees To Recall 1.56 Million Jeeps Over Fires After All

This model of Mercedes might have its own safety issues, regardless of the company's reputation and PR.
posted by homunculus at 9:43 PM on June 19, 2013


Lots of freaky news today - see this. It's all very disturbing.
From the article:
"There was a lack of coordination and willful denial of information," Hank Hughes, a senior accident investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said on Wednesday during a conference call with reporters. "There were 755 witnesses. At no time was information provided by the witnesses shared by the FBI."
From what I remember it was all over the news, though. People talking about seeing it hit by a missile. Apparently someone wrote an entire book about it in 1997, claiming it was a navy test missile.

here's a 1997 popular science article talking about the crash, specifically saying that there was no missile damage and no missile remnants found in the ocean.

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This model of Mercedes might have its own safety issues, regardless of the company's reputation and PR.
It certainly might - which as I said, makes it even more important that the fire be thoroughly investigated to see if there is a safety defect that might kill more people.
posted by delmoi at 9:49 PM on June 19, 2013


NYT questions the accuracy of McChrystal story in Hastings obit
posted by delmoi at 10:18 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the odd minor details to me is the contention in the LA Weekly article, and repeated (uncritically) in the "Admit It, Michael Hastings' Death" blog post, that "that stretch of Highland Avenue [where the crash took place] is notorious for its late-night crashes involving DUI drivers." But to my knowledge, that's not particularly true. It's an extremely nice residential area, and Highland Ave. is a wide, straight shot there -- it's not narrow, there's no tricky turns or blind intersections, etc., and it's several miles from any of the major late-night clubs, bars, etc. in Hollywood.

This is not to say, of course, that DUI's or serious car accidents haven't ever happened there; just that it's strange to me that at least two outlets have referred to Highland and Melrose like it's some Dead Man's Curve where these sort of things happen constantly, when my sense (after having worked in that neighborhood for more than 10 years, including a few years in which I lived nearby as well) is that it's nothing of the sort.
posted by scody at 12:21 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


delmoi's link -- glad his wife, Elise, is sticking up for him
posted by maggieb at 9:57 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


That New York Times obituary is MADDENING.

After their dreadful reporting about the run-up to the Iraq War - and also their dreadful reporting about me personally, but I didn't care so much, it just made me look bad, it didn't kill anyone - I swore that they'd never get another penny from me. And they keep doing stuff like this to justify it.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:15 AM on June 20, 2013


Hastings had expressed support for and was working on a story about Barrett Brown, and was planning to visit him in prison soon.

Charles Pierce on Barrett Brown: A Marriage Of Convenience
posted by homunculus at 11:05 AM on June 20, 2013


That url says "Outsourcing intelligence"... I wish it was to Metafilter.
posted by infini at 11:07 AM on June 20, 2013


I've looked at many instances of cars going fast and hitting trees, utility poles and other fixed objects on YouTube. Fire seems to be a not infrequent occurance. Sure a Benz is designed to go on a controlled access superhighway at a hundred miles per hour. However that roadway has been engineered to greatly reduce the possibility that you will hit some sturdy fixed object at those speeds and be brought to a complete stop. You might slide along the gaurd rail or hit a car movng in the same direction of travel, but that's a lot different physics than slamming into a palm tree. Look at the video of the accident scene. Notice the engine was ripped out through the from of the car as it came out in reverse of be it had been bolted in. That's simple object in motion physics. If the engine rips out like that there will be a lot of fuel spilling. There will also be a lot of heat that will meet the fuel. Based in observable wreckage I think a fire is a likely outcome.

This does not preclude murder. His car might have been tampered with. He might have been speeding to avoid pursuers.
posted by humanfont at 6:47 PM on June 20, 2013


FBI Denies It Was Ever Investigating Michael Hastings
LOS ANGELES, June 20 (Reuters) - Police said on Thursday there was no sign of foul play in the fiery car crash near Hollywood that killed journalist Michael Hastings, whose 2010 magazine article led to the ouster of the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan.

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The online rumors were stoked by a Twitter posting from the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks on Wednesday saying Hastings had contacted a WikiLeaks attorney "just a few hours before he died, saying that the FBI was investigating him."

The FBI issued a statement denying WikiLeaks' assertion.

"At no time was journalist Michael Hastings under investigation by the FBI," agency spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:29 AM on June 21, 2013


Witness to Hastings’ crash: His speeding car ‘shook my car—like a freight truck going by’
posted by BobbyVan at 6:57 AM on June 21, 2013


Yeah that eyewitness account is terrifying.
posted by torticat at 8:18 AM on June 21, 2013


And the plot thickens... an email he sent to his office hours before the crash.

"I'm onto a big story, and need to go off the radat(sic) for a bit."

Some people are way too invested in proving (to themselves?) that an intrepid reporter killed himself...
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:20 AM on June 22, 2013


Hasting's death was bizarre and scary.

The new Mercedes cars have mbrace2 technology, which allows for remote vehicle diagnostics and engine firmware updates over the 3G network. If there was a 0-day exploit in this system, an attacker could push a malicious update that sets the ECU to full-throttle, causing a car to wreck.

None of this will be proven, but it will be a constant niggling doubt in all investigative journalists' minds whenever they consider writing a paper that embarrasses a general. Let's hope Glenn Greenwald doesn't meet a similar fate.
posted by anemone of the state at 8:43 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Witness to Michael Hastings Car Crash Shares His Story
posted by homunculus at 12:32 PM on June 22, 2013


NYTimes Public Editor: Hastings Obituary Did Not Capture His Adversarial Spirit
posted by homunculus at 2:32 PM on June 23, 2013


Hastings had expressed support for and was working on a story about Barrett Brown, and was planning to visit him in prison soon.

Here's a piece Brown wrote about Hastings in 2010: Why the Hacks Hate Michael Hastings
posted by homunculus at 2:44 PM on June 23, 2013


"Hastings Obituary Did Not Capture His Adversarial Spirit"

That NYTimes Public Editor had better start looking for other work, because that piece captured the conformist spirit of the paper.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:50 PM on June 23, 2013


Was Michael Hastings' Car Hacked? Richard Clarke Says It's Possible
posted by homunculus at 9:51 PM on June 24, 2013


Richard Clarke has always been one of those people hyping cyberwar/cyberterrorism.
posted by delmoi at 10:17 PM on June 24, 2013


From Clarke's article:

"What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it's relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn't want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn't want the brakes on, to launch an air bag," Clarke told The Huffington Post. "You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it's not that hard."

From the FAQ of the scientists whose research is quoted in the NYT link, via @ioerror:

For example, in live road tests, were able to forcibly and completely disengage the brakes while driving, making it difficult for the driver to stop. Conversely, we were able to forcibly activate the brakes, lurching the driver forward and causing the car to stop suddenly. We were also able to control the lighting within the cabin, the external lighting, the vehicle's dash, and so on.
posted by mediareport at 11:26 PM on June 24, 2013


The Internet of Everything, now brought to you by the spooks under your own table.
posted by infini at 11:47 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Richard Clarke has always been one of those people hyping cyberwar/cyberterrorism.

That's true. I take him with a grain of salt.
posted by homunculus at 12:52 AM on June 25, 2013


For example, in live road tests, were able to forcibly and completely disengage the brakes while driving, making it difficult for the driver to stop.
That's disturbing.
posted by delmoi at 3:01 AM on June 25, 2013


Was Michael Hastings' Car Hacked? Richard Clarke Says It's Possible

You heard it here first.

If university researchers can control the gas and brakes on a car, it should be no problem for a nation-state to kill someone by making their car speed out of control.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:52 AM on June 25, 2013


.
posted by IvoShandor at 6:37 PM on June 25, 2013


I noticed some of the obits compared Hastings with Jeremy Scahill. Here's a piece on what Scahill has been working on:

All the president's hitmen: tracking Washington's secret army. Jeremy Scahill and Richard Rowley reveal the new face of war
posted by homunculus at 6:43 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


How Easily Can a Moving Car Be Hacked?
posted by homunculus at 5:19 PM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Michael Hastings Cremated Against Family’s Wishes, Deepening Mystery Of Journalist’s Death

Michael Hastings body cremated against family's wishes, wife hires private investigator
posted by homunculus at 12:37 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


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