“In its obituary for the journalist [Michael Hastings]… the New York Times toedaline peddled by the government at the time of the McChrystal scandal by casting some doubt on Hastings’ reporting. The journalist’s widow, Elise Jordan, has been swift to take issue with the Times obit.” — Natasha Lennard, Salon.com (June 20, 2013) In his April 2011 piece, “Pentagon Inquiry Into Article Clears McChrystal and Aides,” the Pentagon’s New York Time reporter Thom Shanker wrote that the DoD investigation had “found no proof of wrongdoing by the general,” “were unable to confirm the events as reported in the June 2010 article in “Rolling Stone,” and “challenged the accuracy of the profile of General McChrystal” written by Michael Hastings. In his 2012 book “The Operators” Michael Hastings responded to criticism of of profile: ”The investigation reads comically. 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.”
I’ll miss Michael’s honest, no BS reporting that is sadly lacking among the stenographic mainstream press. In an interview he was asked the question: “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. Isawapretty 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. And he didn’t bother to call Rolling Stone foracomment, of course, because, well, he’s got the official line from the Pentagon.” It’s worth noting that Shanker also previously whitewashed Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s key role in the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s 2004 friendly-fire death in Afghanistan. In May 2009, President Obama nominated McChrystal to be his new commander of the Afghan War. Conveniently, just before McChrystal’s June 2009 Senate confirmation, the NYT’s published Thom Shanker’s piece, “Nomination of U.S. Afghan Commander Revives Questions in Tillman Case” supposedly “exonerating” McChrystal of all ‘wrongdoing.” Although Shanker’s article was full of official government-approved “facts,” he ignored clear evidence of McChrystal‘s central role in the cover-up [for details, see the posts “Something to Die For,” “The [Untold] Tillman Story,” 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)aprivate tour of his new Pentagon HQ! Afew months later, Shanker becamea”writer in residence” at the think-tank CNAS which worked closely with McChrystal on the Afghan War “surge, ” and CNAS hosted his book release party in 2011. Isn’t “access”agrand thing!
Ididn’t come away from my personal experience with Thom Shanker&the NYT 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.” Once again, with their obituary of Michael Hastings (as with their coverage of the Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman story) the NYT’s reporting has lacked journalistic integrity (“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, instead ofasearch for the truth, the NYT’s has once again displayed its stenographic ability to parrot the official government position “borne out by facts, if not the truth.” Not just stenography, but stenography in the service of smearingareal journalist after his tragic, early death! McChrystal ended his 2013 memoir [see the post “Never ShallIFail My Comrades” at the Feral Firefighter blog] withabrief, disingenuous discussion of the “Rolling Stone” profile which led to his firing by President Obama. Although McChrystal claims he “took full responsibility” he blamed Michael Hastings for his supposed lack of fairness and accuracy. However, it’s worth noting that McChrystal has dodged, repeatedly refusing to confirm or deny the accuracy of Hasting’s quotes when questioned by reporters. Why? Probably because he knows Hasting’s has many of the quotes on audiotape. Since the NYT has persisted in smearing Michael’s credibility even in their obituary, why shouldn’t Elise Jordan release the tapes to clear Michael’s journalistic reputation? (and stick it to McChrystal and the NYT!). Ihope that Elise Jordan decides to posthumously publish Michael Hasting’s transcripts (and release the audiotapes) of his interviews with “Team America”&General McChrystal.