Friday, June 25, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Look, I went into journalism to do journalism, not advertising. My views are critical but that shouldn't be mistaken for hostile. I'm just not a stenographer. There is a body of work that shows how I view these issues but that was hard-earned through experience, not something I learned going to a cocktail party on fucking K Street. That's what reporters are supposed to do -- report the story."

-- Michael Hastings, author of the incendiary piece on General Stanley McChrystal in Rolling Stone


Mart said...

Be interesting to watch if the usual suspects try to take him down. Like Matt Tiabbi expect there will be a couple inconsequential errors that make the whole story wrong, and oh my how he swears - he is not to be trusted at all. Although freelance, he was published by Rolling Stone with Lady Gaga machine gun tits on the cover. How could he be serious?.

Jester said...

I'm really conflicted on this one.

McChrystal is unpopular with the troops because they feel he's tying their hands. His strategy is very Vietnam "hearts and minds" stuff where the guys in the field can shoot, but only if the shoot is righteous. Under McChrystal, the rule in country has been that if you have a doubt, you don't shoot.

Wanna piss off soldiers? Tell them they have to act like cops.

So... yeah. They're happy he's gone and hope this means that the strategy will change.

That said, the strategy McChrystal was pushing is probably ultimately the right one. Every time we shoot a civilian, we create 10 insurgents. Petraeus understands this, so the strategy probably won't change a whole lot.

But the guys in country may miss the subtleties. They'll probably assume that McChrystal being gone means that it's open season again. I suspect we're going to hear about a lot more civilian shootings (and bombings, and strafings) over there in the coming weeks...

So yeah, power of the pen and all that. But don't assume that just because the troops like Hastings work that he did the right thing.

DID he do the right thing? Maybe. Probably. But it's not the right thing just because it made a lot of Marines happy.

Nathan said...

When Hastings was interviewed on The Today Show, he expressed surprise at McChrystal's comeuppance, saying he had thought the General was "untouchable". Don't get me wrong; I don't think Hastings has any responsibility to the General -- his responsibility is to report what the General said and the General's responsibility was to watch his mouth in front of a reporter.

But, OTOH, I think Hastings was incredibly naive to have thought the story would cause a stir and blow over. Either that, or he had a fundamental ignorance of his subject -- the military. Either way, I doubt I'll give much credence to any conclusions he draws in future stories or editorials. He may get the facts right, but he doesn't seem to know what they mean when they're assembled in one place.

liquidlen said...

Awesome. I hope they get this guy on The Daily Show or The Colbert Report.

--Kevin M. Hagerman

Jacki Schechner said...


Riles said...

We're currently in a world where the best news a being gathered and reported by The Daily Show and Rolling Stone. That says a lot.

To Nathan's point, I don't think it was naive at all. Who would have thought a Rolling Stone article really would attract that much attention and result in a firing. Matt Tiabi's articles were just as exposing, and while they did get some MSM attention, they haven't resulted in any real consequences for Wall Street. Although I wish they had, or will eventually.

Nathan said...


Not to belabor a point, but Hastings didn't say he didn't think the article would be widely noticed, he said he'd thought McChrystal was "untouchable" (his word). The first first conclusion would have been entirely defensible; the second demonstrates a lack of understanding a critical facet of his subject matter.