guymontag

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  • Note: I’ve having trouble getting the rest of my Michael Hastings NYT obituary comment to post. If interested, you can find an expanded version (along with links to source docs) in my most recent post at The Feral Firefighter blog.

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  • Part II NYT MH Obit:

    In his 2012 book “The Operators” Michael Hastings wrote: ”The investigation reads comically–no one the investigators spoke to admits to saying what they said, but they also don’t admit to the quotes not having been said … It is the last whitewash of McChrystal’s military career. … Pentagon officials would privately tell journalists that the intent of the investigation wasn’t even to find wrongdoing; it was to “damage” my credibility.”

  • Part I: “Bill Keller defines good journalism—and I think most modern establishment journalists define it this way as well—by how much you please the people in power that you’re covering.”
    . . .

    The Time’s obituary for Rolling Stone’s reporter Michael Hastings quoted their Pentagon reporter Thom Shanker whose April 2011 article said the Pentagon “challenged the accuracy of his profile of General [Stanley] McChrystal.” Michael Hasting’s widow, Elise Jordan, objected to the “blatant mischaracterization” in his obituary” and wrote the NYT asking them to make corrections:

    “If a reporter at the Times actually would read and properly analyze the Pentagon report, they would find exactly the opposite [ of an inaccurate story] … the mischaracterization in the obituary reflects a longstanding – and ongoing – misrepresentation of the facts in and surrounding this story by the Times … I personally transcribed and have all the tape recordings of Michael’s interviews during his time with McChrystal and his staff. I can personally verify that some of the most damning comments were made by McChrystal himself, and many others made by his aides in his presence were greeted with his enthusiastic approval.”

    In his disingenuous 2013 memoir McChrystal only briefly mentioned the controversy which led to his firing by President Obama [see the post "Never Shall I Fail My Comrades" at the Feral Firefighter blog]. Although McChrystal claimed he “took full responsibility” for the controversy, he blamed Michael Hastings for his supposed lack of fairness and accuracy. However, it’s worth noting that McChrystal has repeatedly refused to confirm or deny the accuracy of Hasting’s quotes when questioned by reporters (and was never questioned by the Pentagon investigators).

  • “David Halberstam … when he went to the press conferences of the US generals … they made all sorts of claims he knew that they were lies and instead of disseminating those lies as truths he was standing up at these press conferences in the middle of Vietnam and war zone and very aggressively challenging these generals…”
    . . .

    During his 2012 Robert Greenwald interview Michael Hastings said: “… 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 bullshit every day, but come on, man, don’t point it out — that’s not classy.”

  • “… they purport to be adversaries of political power or watchdogs of political power but what they really are servants to political power. They’re appendages to political power.”
    . . .

    In a 2012 Alternet interview Michael Hastings was asked: “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.”

    Shanker wrote the April 2011 NYT piece that claimed a Pentagon investigation had “found no proof of wrongdoing” by Gen. Stanley McChrystal in the events portrayed in Hasting’s 2010 “Rolling Stone” profile. It’s worth noting that three years previously, Shanker had also written written a May 2009 NYT piece that 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, “Nomination of U.S. Afghan Commander Revives Questions in Tillman Case” supposedly “exonerating” McChrystal and claimed he was “cleared of wrongdoing.” Although Shanker’s article was full of official “facts,” he ignored clear evidence of McChrystal‘s culpability [see the post "Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth" at the Feral Firefighter blog].

    The evening after his Senate confirmation, McChrystal gave Thom Shanker (& fellow NYT reporter Eric Schmitt) a private tour of his new Pentagon HQ! A few months later, Shanker 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 Thom Shanker & the “New York Time’s” with any confidence in our “watchdog” media. As Hastings said, “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.”

  • “David Halberstam viewed the measurement of good journalism as defined by how much you anger the people in power that you’re covering…”
    . . .

    I’ll miss Rolling Stone’s reporter Michael Hastings honest, no BS “advocacy journalism” that is sadly lacking among the stenographic mainstream press.

    Last week, Kelly Vahlos ended her eulogy, “Michael Hastings, Truthteller, Dead at 33,” by writing: “Hastings was lambasted by the establishment hive for supposedly “breaking the rules,” which meant he did his job … I believe his book [“The Operators”] is one of the few “must reads” to come out of the war reportage in that it rankled the powerful while keeping faith with the people, and that’s real journalism. That is why he became a correspondent and why he will be forever remembered as a truthteller. To say he will be missed would be a gross understatement. We are losing so much.”

    And, last year Kelly Vahlos ended her review (“Michael Hastings vs. Team America”) of his 2012 book ”The Operators” on a melancholy note:
    “The predominant feeling … is not outrage, nor gleeful satisfaction in seeing everything one suspects about this rotten war confirmed in tawdry black and white detail and in the rise and fall of one of the most celebrated generals in a generation. The overwhelming feeling is, well, sadness. … sadly familiar: a million film plots of mortal men who flew too high and came down with a crash. The rest … is just plain sad.”

    As is Michael Hasting’s untimely death last week in a fiery car crash … as was the 2007 death of his first fiancée, Andi Parhamovich, who was killed when her car was set on fire in an ambush in Baghdad (see his 2008 book “I Lost My Love in Baghdad”).

  • guymontag commented on the blog post Rereading Michael Hastings’ Interview with Julian Assange

    2013-06-19 08:00:02View | Delete

    Last year, I exchanged emails with Michael after I wrote a post that annotated his book “The Operators” with notes about Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s central role in the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s 2004 friendly-fire death in Afghanistan (see “Something to Die For” at the Feral Firefighter blog).

    This past January, Michael thanked me for sending him my post about McChrystal’s disingenuous memoir (see “Never Shall I Fail My Comrades” at the Feral Firefighter blog); I now regret never calling him with the phone numbers he gave me in his last email.

    Both of Hasting’s books are well worth reading; his first book, “I Lost My Love in Baghdad,” is especially poignant now since his first fiancée died in a car that was set on fire in an ambush. I’ll miss Michael’s honest, no BS reporting that is sadly lacking among the stenographic mainstream press (e.g. we both had unpleasant interactions with the Pentagon’s NYT reporter Thom Shanker).

  • guymontag commented on the diary post Something is Very Wrong with the Bin Laden Kill Story by davidson.

    2011-05-09 05:43:24View | Delete

    @David Loeher. My wife remembered you from when she was the UU minister at Epiphany Church in Fenton. Nice post. “No matter how many times this happens — … Pat Tillman’s death at the hands of Evil Al Qaeda fighters — it never changes: the narrative is set forever by first-day government falsehoods uncritically amplified by [...]

  • guymontag commented on the diary post Three Cups of a Flawed Hero: The Limits of Greg Mortenson’s Model of Change by Paul Rogat Loeb.

    2011-04-28 06:40:33View | Delete

    In his April 27, 2011 piece, “Greg Mortenson Controversy comes to Telluride, but Not the Man Himself,” Allen Best wrote, “Leveling the accusations is another mountain climber, Jon Krakauer, with serious credibility of his own” Last week, Jon Krakauer published his e-book, Three Cups of Deceit, that accused Greg Mortenson (author of Three Cups of [...]

  • guymontag commented on the diary post Mary Tillman: McChrystal appointment “a slap in the face” by Teddy Partridge.

    2011-04-14 13:56:48View | Delete

    Just a couple weeks before the 7th anniversary of Pat Tillman’s friendly-fire death on April 22, 2004, I’d guess the Tillman family isn’t happy with yet another slap in their face by President Obama’s appointment of Gen. Stanley McChrystal as advisor of the new program “Joining Forces.” Mary Tillman was critical of President Obama’s 2009 [...]

  • guymontag commented on the diary post Mary Tillman: McChrystal appointment “a slap in the face” by Teddy Partridge.

    2011-04-14 13:50:59View | Delete

    Here are some excerpts from interviews with Amir Bar-Lev, the director of the documentary “The Tillman Story”: “General McChrystal is just one of several high-ranking figures who’s never been called to account for his role, and the story continues to this very moment. He gets up there at his swearing-in and basically says what has [...]

  • guymontag commented on the diary post Mary Tillman: McChrystal appointment “a slap in the face” by Teddy Partridge.

    2011-04-14 13:49:58View | Delete

    In her foreword to her paperback edition of “Boots on the Ground by Dusk” (at blurb.com) Mary Tillman wrote: “McChrystal’s actions should have been grounds for firing. That is why it was so disturbing to us when President Obama instead promoted McChrystal to the position of top commander in Afghanistan last year. I had sent [...]

  • I’m sure the Tillman family isn’t too happy with yet another slap in their face by President Obama (see Mary Tillman’s foreword at blurb.com for her book “Boots on the Ground by Dusk). I would highly recommend viewing the documentary DVD “The Tillman Story.” Ironically, it’s quite possible that Pat Tillman’s widow,Marie Tillman, may be [...]