Was Michael Hastings the Last American Journalist?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Bill of Rights, United States Constitution

Was Michael Hastings the last American journalist?

Given the all-in-for-the-government way the press has approached the “security breach” that allowed American citizens to know that their government had them — almost all of them — under surveillance, I think that is a fair question.

Thomas Jefferson said, “Our liberty depends on freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

A J Liebling said, “Freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one.”

Has the corporate-owned press ceased to be free? Is it just a mouthpiece for various interests and ideologies? Why would the free press be so completely in support of putting millions of innocent Americans who have committed no crime and have not been accused of committing a crime under government surveillance?

Are they stupid? Do they not see the parallels between this kind of draconian government surveillance of its citizens and every police state nightmare of both history and fiction?

Why are they taking the government line like a bunch of trained chimps instead of asking questions and digging for facts like reporters? Do they ever leave their studios and go out and find the news, or do they just wait for the news to come to them and then “report” (read) it as it comes in? Getting together with a few, carefully selected, “experts” to comment on the latest press release that you just read on the air is not reporting.

The CSPAN interview below gives a glimpse of Michael Hastings and the kind of work he did. It makes no difference what conclusions you draw from the information Mr Hastings gave you. The point is that he gave you the information. That’s a journalist’s job. Deciding what to do with the information is your part of the free press equation.

All this leads me to ask again: Was Michael Hastings the last American journalist?

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  • Heloise1

    Just might be.The rest are lap dogs.

  • FW Ken

    Well, I’m a long-time fan of GetReligion blog, which bills itself as “pro-journalism”. I would consider them, and some others they highlight, to be real journalists.

    But that’s different from “the media”, which as a whole, blatantly campaigned for Pres. Obama in the last election. They are covering the multitude of questionable federal actions that began on 9/11/12, which is self-defeating, given the administration’s lack of loyalty.

    And really, is Fox a credible alternative to the alphabet news channels? So, yes, there are real journalists out there. I’m not sure they have much place in the news industry that possess as journalism.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      Fox hasn’t been a credible alternative since Rupert Murdoch purchased it.

  • GuyMontag425

    “Why are they taking the government line like a bunch of trained chimps instead of asking questions and digging for facts like reporters? … do they just wait for the news to come to them and then “report” (read) it as it comes in?”

    During a Alternet interview about his 2012 book “The Operators” Michael Hastings was asked by Robert Greenwald “are there individual reporters whom you want to call out publicly for their sort of following the Pentagon line and not doing their job?” He replied, “Yeah. I saw a pretty egregious example with the New York Times Pentagon correspondent [Thom Shanker] who literally just published the Pentagon spokesperson’s anonymous quotes when he was reporting on my stories … he’s got the official line from the Pentagon.”

    It’s worth noting that four years ago Shanker whitewashed Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s key role in the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s 2004 friendly-fire death in Afghanistan. Just before McChrystal’s June 2009 Senate confirmation as Afghan War commander, the NYT’s published Thom Shanker’s piece that supposedly “exonerated ” McChrystal and claimed he was “cleared of wrongdoing.” Although Shanker’s article was full of official “facts,” he ignored clear evidence I gave him of McChrystal‘s culpability [see my posts “More NYT Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth” and “Lies Borne Out By Facts, If Not the Truth" at the Feral Firefighter blog].

    The evening after his Senate confirmation, McChrystal gave Shanker (& fellow NYT reporter Eric Schmitt) a private tour of his new Pentagon HQ! A few months later, he took a sabbatical as a “writer in residence” at the think-tank CNAS (which worked closely with McChrystal on the Afghan War “surge) and CNAS hosted his 2011 book release party. Isn’t “access” grand!

    I didn’t come away from my personal experience with the Pentagon’s NYT reporter Thom Shanker with any confidence in our “watchdog” media. Neither did Michael Hastings express much confidence in the mainstream media during his Robert Greenwald interview:

    “… I called it the “media military industrial complex” … and they call it the Pentagon Press Corps, right? And you sort of think, oh, well it means the people who kind of watch over the Pentagon and perform the media’s watchdog function, but no, it’s an extension of the Pentagon. For the most part. … when was the last time anyone at the Pentagon broke a story that wasn’t pre-approved? It’s very, very rare.” … “And I noticed this first in Iraq when things were going horribly … when I was there. And the spokespeople in the military public relations apparatus would just lie to your face. Every day they would lie. And God forbid you … point this out. Yeah, we all know they’re lying but you’re not supposed to say it, you know? We know we’re getting bs every day, but come on, man, don’t point it out — that’s not classy.”

  • GuyMontag425

    “In her take on the [NYT Michael Hastings] obit, Sullivan said that while “the obituary…is not factually inaccurate, as far as I can tell” …”

    As NYT public editor Margaret Sullivan noted in her recent column, the references to the Pentagon’s investigation suggest “a debunking of the “Rolling Stone” article’s conclusions” and discredit Hastings’ work. So was Sullivan implicitly saying the Pentagon references were a disingenuous prevarication, a “lie borne out by facts, if not the truth”?

    “the obituary…is not factually inaccurate.” What exactly does that mean? (If you take out the double-negative, she’s saying the obituary is “factually accurate”). She seems to be agreeing with the NYT’s obituary editor McDonald that “it’s not The Times that is questioning the article’s accuracy; it was the Defense Department. We’re simply reporting what it publicly said.” So, if the NYT obituary repeats/reports the Pentagon’s lies, that’s OK with her because it’s technically true the Pentagon said those lies?

    “As far as I can tell.” How much fact-checking did she do? Why didn’t she do sufficient fact-checking to discover which side has more credible evidence and logic to support its case? [for links to source material, see “More NYT’s Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth” at the Feral Firefighter blog]. Did she read the DoD’s six-page report whitewash and compare it to Hasting’s detailed account in his book “The Operators”? (I’ve read both and the report is a complete joke). Or ask Elise Jordan to take a look at Hasting’s transcripts/tapes to verify the facts for herself? Or try to get Gen. McChrystal or any of his staff to actually go on the record to dispute the accuracy of the profile?

    Unfortunately, Sullivan’s column dodged the key issue of the obituary controversy that concerned Michael Hasting’s widow Elise Jordan: the truthfulness of his “Rolling Stone” profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Sullivan failed to resolve this issue by merely stating the obituary “is not factually inaccurate, as far as I can tell”

  • GuyMontag425

    Was Michael Hastings the last American journalist?
    . . .

    No, but there’s not a bunch left out there. A few come to mind. Jeremy Scahill. Amy Goodman. Glenn Greenwald. Of course, they get very little play in the mainstream media since they are considered “advocacy” journalists by the synchophantic establishment stereographers.

  • hotboogers

    Maybe.

    Yes and yes. They are, by-and-large, useful idiots, the nature of whom it is not to understand what or who those are, and not to understand their inevitable end.

    I think so. No they do not.

    See “useful idiots” above. No they do not; they wait to be spoon fed a juicy bite.

    Maybe.
    Personal comment:
    If reporting is salvageable, it will be through New Media, right where we are now.

  • faustinaagatha

    Thank you for your coverage of this, Rebecca.

    Yes there are real journalists but on the internet and in the odd places like Rolling Stone mag. In college back in the 80′s, our journalism school would have bigwigs come – like Jim Lehrer, and talk about the poor reporting and concentration of news outlets.


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