Thursday, February 24, 2011

Praise for Rolling Stone's Michael Hastings and Matt Taibbi

I've been a  fan of the journalist Matt Taibbi for a while now, though I cannot quite remember how I first came across his work.  And I admit that I was not at all familiar with Michael Hastings until his bombshell of a story on Gen. Stanley McChrystal, which essentially ended his military career (my post here).  I mention these two journalists, because they have given me a reason really to pay attention to the political stories coming out of Rolling Stone magazine.  Both of these guys have a no nonsense approach to their subjects that I truly appreciate, especially Taibbi.

I have two articles that I hope you will read.  The first is from Taibbi, and it is an explanation as to why we likely will not see any real criminal prosecutions out of Wall Street (or even the right's beloved "Fannie and Freddie") for the Crash of '08.  The second is from Hastings on a general's efforts to use propaganda to influence American members of Congress into continued financial support for aspects of the war in Afghanistan. 

When I finished both articles, I was reminded that all too often the arguments between the regular folks on the left and the right are pretty useless.  Between the antics of the super rich and the purveyors of the military-industrial complex (civilian and active duty), we are not paying attention to what is actually happening to our country, and all of us regular folks are bitching with one another over crumbs.  And those who have tried to make the argument to look in the direction of those who mean truly to fuck us over are often dismissed completely.  So, I will just keep trying to see if there are folks out there who are willing to report what's happening.  Taibbi and Hastings are among those folks.

UPDATE 2.27.2011:  Regarding Hastings, I found this post by Glenn Greenwald to be interesting, since we are now talking about another U.S. general.  And here is a link to a post over at Huffington that covers Jon Stewart's take on what happened in the media the first time Hastings made a splash.


TC said...

Hastings? Really? Both of his "big" articles have been, journalistically, rubbish-filled hit pieces.

I don't know if LTG Caldwell did what he's accused of or not, or where in the grey area this probably falls, but the current article could have easily been written by the aggrieved lieutenant colonel. Did he use alcohol while deployed (a serious offense)? Or start some type of business? Those are serious charges that Hastings, in his rush to go after the stars, just glosses over.

TC said...

And these were my thoughts about his McChrystal article, written within days of it being published.

I just read the article and can't find anything in there that warrants threats to fire McChrystal; that warrants this being the top story of the news cycle; that warrants McChrystal being recalled from Afghanistan.

I can't find anything in there that makes me think that McChrystal did anything intentionally to plant this story (especially now), especially since the reporter was mostly around him back in April.

My guess is that 95% of those commenting on the story haven't even read the article.

To me, this story is one of the products of the Beltway news cycle, in which anthills become Mount Rainiers and speed bumps become the Tetons.

One reporter got an inside look at McChrystal and his team -- thanks to a volcano he stayed a lot longer than two days -- and wrote a pretty broad (and frankly poorly-written) portrait of McChrystal. How much meat is there in the anti-administration/anti-civilian comments? Can someone parse out those few statements from the six pages of other stuff? A lot of stuff is attributed to his "aides" and not McChrystal.

Read this article and tell me why it warrants top-billing on every news show today:

hscfree said...

And that's what follow-up stories are for. Other journalists should then flesh these things out more, and you certainly should know by now that I have always been willing to acknowledge new and convincing information. As far as the poorly written comment, I think that you are forgetting that the audience for Rolling Stone isn't the same staid audience as the WSJ. Regarding McChrystal, if I recall correctly, wasn't the information in the article more the last straw rather than the smoking gun for his retirement?

TC said...

Others should flesh out the story?

It's Hastings' story. He should flesh it out. He should have gotten hold of the investigation into LTC Holmes (has ever heard of FOIA?) before smearing a 3-star general's name. He's the one labeling Caldwell "another runaway general" based on one disgruntled officer's complaints.

Hastings hit it big once. Now he's trying to recreate that big story based on flimsy evidence. Is Rolling Stone exempt from basic journalistic standards?