News that journalist Michael Hastings died yesterday in a car crash in Los Angeles came as a shock to people who knew him, worked with him and read his work in the pages of Rolling Stone, among other places. Rachel Maddow did all three, and she paid moving tribute to Hastings last night on her show on MSNBC.
“Michael was angry,” said Maddow, who first met Hastings through her former Air America colleague Andi Parhamovich, Hastings’ fiancée, who was killed in Iraq. “He was also loving and thoughtful and constructive and brilliant, but he was angry about things that weren’t right in the world . . . with war and with loss, and that drove his reporting, and it made him fearless when he realized he had found something important that he could report.”
Maddow recalled talking to Hastings the day his Rolling Stone profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal broke. “He was in Afghanistan at the time, he was about to head out on an embed, and I was trying to talk to him . . . about what he had just done, and talk him into the idea that he might want to make his way out of the war zone he was in before the moment at which his reporting would cause the firing of the very popular man who was running the war he was in the middle of,” Maddow said. “But Michael was in Kandahar that night, and Michael stayed. He went out on that embed. He was fearless.”
Although Hastings wrote and reported in a way that Maddow described as “unvarnished,” the people close to him saw another side of the hard-hitting reporter, who was 33.
“Michael Hastings did not write to make friends, but if you were his friend, he was an inspiring and exciting and original and deeply lovable guy,” Maddow said. “He was angry, and he was hardworking. He was also very sweet.”