Talk:Michael Hastings (journalist)

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Spelling mistake[edit]

"awarded a Polk Award for his repoorting." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:48, 30 January 2012 (UTC)

Edit request on 27 January 2013[edit]

Please add:

Hastings, Michael (January 2013). "Panic 2012: The Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story of Obama's Final Campaign" BuzzFeed/Blue Rider Press

to list of Publications. . Thank you. (talk) 17:17, 27 January 2013 (UTC)

Done --Jnorton7558 (talk) 05:08, 30 January 2013 (UTC)

The Notebook[edit]

Hastings was nicknamed "The Notebook" and showed one during many of his appearances on The Young Turks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:22, 18 June 2013 (UTC)

Not done Do you have a source for this? Is there a reason that this should be included in the article? Trinitresque (talk) 21:38, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

Foul play question[edit]

Shouldn't the blurb referencing Wikileaks avoid making a positive statement of fact at this point? Wikileaks claiming to have been contacted doesn't constitute sufficient proof IMM to state it as fact. (talk) 16:39, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

It is certain to be eventually be raised, so I place it in the record.Wikipietime (talk) 13:07, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

According to WikiLeaks twitter feed he contacted them saying he was being investigated by the FBI. -- (talk) 01:16, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
Seems pretty lame to me; and from around the web; "Authorities said there was a car crash early Tuesday in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles that killed a man, but coroner's officials could not confirm whether Hastings was the victim."

"The vehicle's engine ejected 50 to 60 yards from the scene before landing near a telephone pole, according to neighbor and film maker Gary Grossman who said he couldn't have written a scene like this for a movie." [1] Wikipietime (talk) 13:09, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

This is not a forum. Please leave speculation at the door. --Tarage (talk) 21:29, 19 June 2013 (UTC)
This is not speculation. This is a video; [1]--Senor Freebie (talk) 10:05, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
Do not bend to wikipedia fanboys, this is clear foul play with anyone who has brains and has researched the story, car crashes don't blow up like this, this is elementary physics, the whole family thinks it's murder so does his friends who received emails and his warnings, MLK also made a key speech on TYT challenging all other media to come together to release everything suspicious they have and to report on things the government doesn't want them to; this is not something new, journalists who expose criminal corruption have always been the target, this is not a usual event for wikipedia community, but it is for the informed communities who cover stuff like this on a daily basis. SSG Joseph Biggs just talked about it for 30 minutes on the alex jones show in detail. Pretty much everyone in the informed communities agree this to likely be a murder, noumerous credible people who are on the side of truth have spoken out, including former cybersecurity advisor to Bush said that the indicent was "consistent with a car cyberattack". The ideals of wikipedia are trying to hold us back from investigating by using stuff like "no speculation", if you don't search for anything you won't find anything - wikipedia may be ultimately accused of anti-free speech and other anti-moral practices along with their ridicolous "credible sources" idea. I never use wikipedia for controversial topics, it is a very unreliable source. This is a murder and it is just a matter of time it will get out, or it will not, but because the criminals are already destroying evidence as we speak. Xowets (talk) 19:38, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
  • This issue has the potential to get nasty, given the FBI investigation angle re: the statement from Hastings' lawyer. Let's make sure this article has well-sourced material that conforms to WP:RS regarding any questions about Hastings' death. This is going to be a high-profile Wikipedia article, most likely, in the near term. Let's strive to make the article as NPOV as possible, something we can be proud of. Jusdafax 19:43, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Selective quoting[edit]

A witness to the crash said that he seemed to be driving at the maximum speed on his speedometer before crashing directly into a palm tree.

That's a highly selective quote. The full statement from the source indicates that he wasn't "driving" at the maximum speed, but that the car was experiencing some kind of mechanical problem before the crash, as the witness noticed sparks coming out from the bottom of the car. The driver (according to the cited witness) appeared to have completely lost control of the car and it was accelerating out of control at the maximum speed until it hit pot holes or bumps in the road, at which point it fishtailed and hit the palm tree. Please correct your omissions. Viriditas (talk) 12:09, 23 June 2013 (UTC)

I wasn't trying to selectively quote, I just added what I thought was a relevant fact from the source. Of course, you're free to expand information as you wish, since I don't own this article. I'll expand soon myself if I find the time. Trinitresque (talk) 22:20, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
Another complication is that a previous statement by the same witness in another source interview appears to contradict it as he seems to say that he actually never saw the crash. Viriditas (talk) 00:49, 24 June 2013 (UTC)
From the video, Kasparian: "There was some footage of him online where he was trying to explain what happened, but since he does not speak English fluently, it was really difficult for him to answer the questions." Trinitresque (talk) 04:14, 24 June 2013 (UTC)
Yes, but aside from her commentary, he did originally say that he never saw the crash and was relying on what other people said about it. Viriditas (talk) 08:18, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Do you have a source? Trinitresque (talk) 19:48, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
Of course, but I'm referring to the first interview he gave in broken English. In any case, the material is still highly selective and doesn't adequately represent the know facts. Viriditas (talk) 00:36, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
"Do you have a source?" was my way of saying, "Please give me your source." Trinitresque (talk) 00:38, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
What part of "I'm referring to the first interview he gave in broken English" is presenting a problem? You appear to be unaware (or pretending to be unaware) that the Spanish language interview was the second interview. Please stop playing games. Viriditas (talk) 00:41, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
The part that's the problem is that you're not providing the link! I'm sure it exists, but I want the link from you. If you're going on about this for so many days without providing a link to your source, you're the one "playing games". Trinitresque (talk) 15:57, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Then, you don't understand the discussion. There is only one original inteview, aka "Loudlabs News".[2] How you can participate in this discussion and not know that is beyond my understanding. Viriditas (talk) 11:37, 5 July 2013 (UTC)


He told C-SPAN Q&A that he studied English literature, not journalism.[3] Can anyone confirm his degree was in journalism? Viriditas (talk) 08:16, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

His NYTimes obit says journalism, and they are generally good about factchecking those. Gamaliel (talk) 21:46, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
According to C-SPAN: "Michael Hastings graduated from New York University with a degree in English".[4] That's a summary from the first part of the linked interview. I'm a bit beyond trusting any news source at this point. Viriditas (talk) 00:35, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Death of Hastings' fiance[edit]

The fourth sentence in the article says his fiance was killed by an IED - that is incorrect - she was killed in an ambush attack - see Hastings' book, I Lost My Love In Baghdad. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rolbrx (talkcontribs) 01:43, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Fixed. There's a lot of erroneous information floating around, and it looks like I mistakenly included it. Viriditas (talk) 04:39, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Removal of content[edit]

Both of his brothers followed their parents in becoming doctors; his younger brother Jeff served 15 months in the Iraq War as a platoon leader and received a Bronze Star for his service.

Recently, an editor removed this biographical content with the edit summary "Irrelevant and non-WP:TOPIC what his brothers did or do".[5] This overzealous editor must have missed the extensive C-SPAN interview which explains the importance and relevance of this information. Of course, it is entirely relevant and topical what his brothers did when their military service influenced his interest and understanding of the topic, and led him to pursue that interest as a journalist. Viriditas (talk) 09:33, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

  • Agree that the content is relevant, and should be restored. Jusdafax 10:05, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Source from Computer World[edit]

This may be useful:

WhisperToMe (talk) 22:58, 27 June 2013 (UTC)


The lawyer was Australian human-rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson, please link.-- (talk) 14:27, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

Inappropriate speculation[edit]

I personally find Michael Hastings' death somewhat suspicious. However, it's inappropriate to offer flagrant, solicited speculation regarding possible conspiracy theories, as has been added multiple times to this article. Richard Clarke saying in an interview that the event is "consistent" with a cyber attack is meaningless; if the interviewer had asked whether is was consistent with a stuck accelerator pedal, or suicide, Clarke likely would have answered yes to that as well, because the crash is consistent with those possible causes. Had Clarke written a piece making this specific claim and it was published by a reliable source, that would be different. As it stands, this is a WP:POV addition that violates WP:UNDUE as it is the highly qualified opinion of one person answering an interview question -- someone who never shies away from an opportunity to appear in the media and promote his books, I might add. -Jordgette [talk] 22:02, 5 July 2013 (UTC)

The only thing that is relevant here is that HuffPost is considered RS given the status of the subject, and the mention here is entirely appropriate given the piece is specifically about Hastings death. It is a very normal practice to include a wide array of commentary on Wikipdia if RS requirements are met. Personal opinions about Clarke have absolutely no business here and only show a POV problem might be present. I could use the same argument to say that the LAPD comment should not be mentioned, because they have been caught lying enough times that they should not be considered a reliable source. petrarchan47tc 22:12, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
I disagree that Huffingtonpost is a reliable source, particularly in this case. The article's author, Michael Hogan, is the "Executive Arts and Entertainment Editor of The Huffington Post." He is the person who juxtaposed the solicited comment from Clarke with mentions of the thrown engine and the explosion report, neither of which were considered evidence of foul play by investigators on the scene. This is not the New York Times here. For an arts and entertainment editor to float this association is irresponsible, and worse yet for Wikipedia to promote it. Isn't Wikipedia supposed to be concerned with facts? The fact is, there is currently zero evidence supporting Clarke's speculation, and even he admits that none may ever turn up. (It'd be like the Evolution article quoting a theologian who says that the fossil record is consistent with God placing retroactively dated fossils in the ground to test our faith, something we'll never be able to disprove.) So, again, what function does Clarke's solicited opinion of consistency serve in the article, except to promote a POV? One cannot possibly claim that this is a neutral addition. -Jordgette [talk] 23:31, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
Jordgette, are you aware that this story was covered by multiple reliable sources? Viriditas (talk) 02:55, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
It is a fact that Huffington Post is RS for statements made by someone who alone constitutes RS. In other words, wherever Clark's comments were posted would be RS because of his status.. You can certainly check it out further at the RS noticeboard to make sure, but I have researched HuffPost in the RS noticeboard archives and know that what I'm saying is correct. Clark's statements serve to add encyclopedic content, in the exact same way the LAPD comments are included. We don't simply allow the "official position" to rule the entire conversation about a subject. It is unclear to me why this is causing problems, Clarke is most certainly a RS in Wiki terms, whether you like him or not. It is always the goal to give a full picture when building an encyclopedia article. It would be POV if we didn't do that, but only gave the reader statements from officials.petrarchan47tc' 03:12, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

The RS issue has been addressed, but not the WP:UNDUE issue. There is at this time no evidence to support foul play according to reliable sources (correct?), so it is still unclear why Clarke's speculation constitutes an encyclopedic fact. If Paula Deen said that the scene was consistent with a grease fire, and many sources reported this because she's a hot topic right now, would it be in the article? I'm not even being facetious. Just because a possible cause has been reliably verified as consistent does not mean it belongs in the encyclopedia at this time. -Jordgette [talk] 04:49, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

Agree. This is a very large case of WP:UNDUE. I would be open to a sentence about the phenomenon, but not a lot more than that. --Tarage (talk) 09:01, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
Tarage, you removed Petrarchan47's content with this revert. How is it undue? Sometimes it helps to reduce and simplify the disputed content to brief bullet points. Petrarchan47 wrote the following:
  • The accident was considered peculiar.
  • Counter-terrorism expert Richard Clarke said the accident was "consistent with a car cyber attack."
  • Witnesses described a bizarre accident scene.
I'm really not seeing any problems here, but I'm open to someone else showing me a problem. I would also like to add some material from other sources to this discussion:
  • Hastings wrote stories that angered powerful people
  • He claimed his life was threatened by people he wrote about
  • He outspokenly declared a journalistic "war" on the government by writing critical articles about them, because in his opinion, the government had declared "war" on journalists
  • Hours before he was found dead, he claimed he was under investigation
  • His friends said he never drove fast and drove like a "grandma"
  • The LAPD dismissed claims of foul play the next day, even though an investigation could take weeks to months
  • The Mercedes C250 coupe has a 9.4 safety rating with six separate air bags. It received the highest scored ratings possible from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is considered to have some of the best "High-tech safety features".
Now, I'm not saying anyone killed him. It sounds like his accelerator got stuck and he smashed into a tree by accident. But there are open questions about the accident in reliable sources, and I believe I summarized a few of them above. Viriditas (talk) 11:26, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
The content is undue because it assumes the existence of "another side to the story," for which there is presently no reliably sourced evidence. "It would be POV if we didn't do that, but only gave the reader statements from officials" is the standard conspiracy theorist argument (see: Evolution, 7 World Trade Center, Apollo 11 etc). There is presently no controversy except in the minds of those who would like to think there is a controversy.
  • The accident is considered peculiar by some (who, it's unclear), but apparently not by investigators at this time; however, the investigation is ongoing and this may change.
  • Richard Clarke said what he said in response to a loaded question, and phrased his answer shrewdly enough to be picked up by many press sources looking for a story where there is none at this time. The Huffingtonpost arts & entertainment editor cherry-picked the bits about the engine and the possible explosion to advance the narrative promoted by his story.
  • Lay people described a bizarre accident scene. Bizarre-looking accident scenes happen all the time. However, professional investigators did not consider the scene so bizarre that it indicated immediate evidence of foul play. -Jordgette [talk] 18:56, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
The interview with HuffPo received significant secondary source coverage, so it is now notable enough for us to mention it.[6][7][8][9] Viriditas (talk) 21:11, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
But it remains WP:UNDUE. Conspiracy theories regarding Sandy Hook have also been extensively reported upon [10][11][12][13], but that article rightly contains no references to them other than a "see also" link to a separate article. This case is no different. Perhaps we should have a Michael Hastings death alternative theories article? -Jordgette [talk] 21:48, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
This case is entirely different. Journalists have been targeted by governments around the world for their work. It's a dangerous profession, especially when someone like Hastings spends his entire career criticizing the government. He received death threats, he said he was under investigation, and then his car exploded. How is this similar to Sandy Hook? Viriditas (talk) 00:25, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
It is precisely similar to Sandy Hook in that conspiracy theories are afoot despite zero reliably sourced evidence supporting them. Your synthetic opinion that Michael Hastings could have been targeted because of his career is original research and has no bearing upon the due or undue nature of the speculation we're discussing. -Jordgette [talk] 02:50, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
Are you saying that we can only discuss conspiracy theories if they have "reliably sourced evidence"? That's not at all true nor is it the criteria we work with here. "Synthesis" and "original research" are terms we use on Wikipedia to describe article content, not talk page discussions. Whether Michael Hastings could have been targeted because of his career is the question asked by the "conspiracy theorists". Wikipedia has covered similar conspiracies in many articles (none of which have anything to do with Sandy Hook), articles like Danny Casolaro, Diana, Princess of Wales, Vince Foster, David Kelly, and many other articles. According to statistical analysis by the Committee to Protect Journalists, of the 1000 or so journalists killed since 1992, 42% wrote about or covered politics while 35% covered war.[14] Hastings as a journalist falls into the two categories that result in the most deaths. We also know that these kinds of deaths are more than common. One needs to look no farther than the list of journalists killed in Russia. Now, the opinion that he could have been targeted is supported by his own stories and interviews where he claims he was subject to death threats. This evidence is also extensively covered in reliable sources. Now, as for the conspiracy theories about his death in a car accident, those have been extensively covered by Burlington Free Press, CBS, CNN, Fox, HuffPo, International Business Times, News Corp Australia, The Atlantic, and many others. So, the question isn't about unreliable sources or undue weight, but how best to cover this subject. Currently, you are arguing that because there is no evidence to support foul play, we can't discuss it, but that isn't true. The Burlington Free Press writes:

The LAPD's comment about foul play followed a surge of conspiracy theories online that wondered whether the government might have targeted Hastings for his reporting on security, war and terrorism issues, including the National Security Agency’s widespread phone and Internet snooping programs...Spokesman Richard French said detectives did not share with his office the reasons behind their conclusion that the crash was an accident...The Department of Coroner said an autopsy on Hastings has been performed, but the cause of death was listed as deferred pending further investigation, including toxicology and pathology reports..."The question is 'Why? Why did he crash?'" said Ed Winter, assistant chief of the department. "Was it something mechanical that the traffic division of the LAPD is going to be able to find? Did he have a medical condition that caused him to pass out? Did the accelerator stick? Was he under medication? Was there some other factor?"...The inquiry could take up to six weeks, Winter said. The LAPD, too, said its investigation was ongoing."

So the investigation is ongoing and evidence is still being collected. And in the meantime, we can write about it. This is not "inappropriate speculation" and is fully supported by our sources. While I certainly agree that Petrarchan47's content additions can be improved, I'm not seeing any good policy reason to delete them. Finally, I should comment that your proposal to split this out into a "Michael Hastings death alternative theories" article violates WP:POVFORK. "All facts and major points of view on a certain subject should be treated in one article". Viriditas (talk) 05:53, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
That is exactly right: major points of view. This is very much a minor point of view -- especially considering how widely his death was factually reported. It is not like we have immediate evidence of foul play and multiple independent news agencies are analyzing and writing on this evidence. That is the whole and entire thrust of the WP:UNDUE argument. To include even one sentence in the short writeup of Hastings' death is undue at this time. I suppose we can have an RfC on this issue, but the position has been laid out here over several days and there's no point in continuing to repeat ourselves. -Jordgette [talk] 17:48, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
The preponderance of sources have treated this POV as a major one, "a surge of conspiracy theories online", an investigation by CNN, questions asked by major reporters, etc. We do not have evidence for or against foul play. There are major questions about his death circulating in major news sources. I do not see that as "undue". If you want to have an RFC, I recommend consulting with Petrarchan47 over the wording to nail down the exact point of contention. For me personally, if major sources report it, then it is a candidate for us to write about it. And, the points covered by the Burlington Free Press are also covered by many other sources, giving us plenty of material to expand the death section. Viriditas (talk) 10:45, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
There is a difference between the reporting of "a surge of conspiracy theories online" and news outlets actually presenting conspiracy theories. The reporting regards the online chatter; it does not suggest that any of this chatter is valid (except perhaps in stories by the Burlington Free Press and sources that picked them up, a very minor POV). If a sentence is due on this phenomenon, it would be something like, after the foul play note, "Regardless, the Internet has seen a surge of conspiracy theories regarding Hastings' death [ref]." And that would be all at this time. -Jordgette [talk] 18:06, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
@Viriditas: I'll address your points in order.
1. Citation needed.
2. Richard Clarke is a known conspiracy theorist. His words are weighted.
3. Citation needed. The one person interviewed spoke very broken English.
4. Synthesis.
5. Synthesis.
6. Synthesis.
7. Synthesis.
8. Synthesis.
9. Citation needed
10. Synthesis.
You are going to need reliable sources saying the things you are saying. Otherwise it is synthesis and not admissible. Wikipedia isn't here to draw conclusions, it's here to report what reliable sources say. --Tarage (talk) 21:57, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
Tarage, I think you misunderstood something you read, because what you have written here makes no sense. We already have reliable sources that talk about his death. The question asked was, how is the material "undue"? Viriditas (talk) 00:25, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
We have reliable sources saying he died. There are very few reliable sources stating that anything but an unfortunate car crash occurred. No outside influences, no government cover up. Speaking otherwise is, like I said, synthesis. Synthesis is taking facts about the crash and making conclusions based on them. That is not for us to do. If reliable sources connect the dots, then we can report on them, but for them to have more than a sentence, they have to be much more reported than things talking about his death in a normal way. Do you understand? That is why it is undue to include a paragraph or multiple paragraphs. The conspiracy is not being reported in the mainstream media or with many reliable sources. --Tarage (talk) 00:47, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────No, I do not understand. So, for my benefit and your own, I'm hoping we can simplify this discussion as I believe you misread something somewhere that led you down this line of reasoning. Per WP:BRD, let's begin with discussing your revert of Petrarchan47's content addition:[15]

Some media referred to the accident as "peculiar". In an interview with the Huffington Post, Richard Clarke, former counter-terrorism czar under Clinton and Bush, stated that what was known about Hastings' car accident was "consistent with a car cyber attack." He explained that hacking the control system of a car is relatively easy. However, he did not claim that a hack had occurred. One neighbor on the scene reported having heard an explosion, and another said that the car's engine had been found 50-60 feet from the accident scene.[2] Other reports said the engine flew 100 feet from the car.[3] In an interview with Fox news, Sgt. Joe Biggs, a close friend of Hastings, said that Michael "drove like a granda" and that "things don't add up" with the story of the crash.[4]

Tarage, can you explain why you removed this content? Please don't refer to anything that has been said in this discussion. Please only address your reasons for removing it. And if possible, please work towards resolving this content dispute between you and Petrarchan47 by moving your argument towards either a compromise or an offer as to what you will accept and what you will not. That would be a good start in the right direction. Thanks. Viriditas (talk) 01:03, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

Because it was synthesis and the parts that weren't fell under the undue weight clause. We can only report what reliable sources say, and the length at which we report something must have weight equivalent to the amount it is being reported. This is what I have said from the beginning, and continue to say. --Tarage (talk) 07:28, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
I'm not seeing it. Where exactly is the synthesis in the above blockquote? Please specify by quoting the exact parts you claim are synthesis in the above blockquote. Viriditas (talk) 10:40, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
I don't see how it can be argued that Clarke's comments about the accident have no relevance here. In fact, with the LAPD quotation about "no foul play", if there is rebuttal from the likes of Clarke, it is a required addition. petrarchan47tc 01:57, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
Nobody is saying that Clarke's comments are irrelevant. It's that including them constitutes undue weight, given the manner in which major news outlets reported factually on the crash vs. reported on Clarke's comments. It's not about the necessity to get in a "rebuttal" (which Clarke's comment isn't, anyway). Please see the discussions above. -Jordgette [talk] 02:31, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
"What RS sources are saying" is a fluid concept - investigations are taking place and the reporting on them is just beginning. petrarchan47tc 01:55, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Jordgette, major news sources have reported on Clarke's comments. There's nothing preventing us from mentioning them. Viriditas (talk) 04:21, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Now at New Scientist.[16] Viriditas (talk) 11:15, 20 July 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── At this point perhaps the article should mention Clarke and hacking. But I'm not sure. We have multiple independent sources describing the crash as suspicious, and we have several sources describing the potential for a car to be hacked, mentioned in relation to Hastings. But no hard evidence pointing to this cause has been discovered, and no reliable source has "put together the pieces" and flat-out stated that Hastings' car was likely hacked. (I maintain that Kimberly Dvorak, a San Diego freelance investigative reporter, doesn't rise to this standard; others may disagree.) Just because sources say that a speculated act of foul play is possible, does that necessitate its inclusion in the article as a proper theory? I'm unconvinced, but the question gets more interesting by the day. -Jordgette [talk] 00:01, 21 July 2013 (UTC)

Death - explosion[edit]

The article page focuses on the crash, rather than the explosion. They wrote: "Michael Hastings died in a single-vehicle automobile crash". It is incorrect to assume the crash killed him and to ignore the explosion. Michael could have died from the explosion. The explosion sent the engine flying to the other side of the street. Also, a neighbor said that 'it sounded like an explosion' and her house shook. --Jane955 (talk) 15:47, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

As far as I know, other than the witness account, there is no evidence of an actual explosion, just something that may have sounded like one. A car hitting a tree at 100 MPH, causing the engine to detach, may have sounded like an explosion, but that is only my speculation. -Jordgette [talk] 17:53, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

This has been described in the media as a "fire-fueled explosive crash". The Spanish speaking witness said that the car was bouncing and there were flames and sparks near the gas tank, he then said that when the car hit the tree the flames were higher. This could have been caused from high speed or explosives. There are speculations that someone may have disabled the breaks.--Jane955 (talk) 18:59, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

Explosion is unreasonable, but vehicle fire is probably more accurate than crash, or at least crash and vehicle fire. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:53, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

The accident was described in the media as an EXPLOSIVE crash. The engine flew to the other side of the street. Neighbor named Rochelle Frankel, "It sounded like a bomb went off in the middle of the night, my house shook." Spanish speaking witness, "The car was bouncing, flames & sparks near the gas tank. When he hit the palm tree, that's when the flames were higher."

But you may be right, maybe the accident caused the fire, although it was Mercedes - a very safe car. Also, another very important thing that should be mentioned in the 'death' section, is Richard A. Clarke's comment, that I'll write below.--Jane955 (talk) 00:11, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

More on Hasting's death[edit]

I've added a mention of the controversy - I hope the chosen formulation is consensual enough. I agree Wikipedia shouldn't speculate, and should rather focus on citing the reports and opinions that were put forward by reliable sources. As to the comment that NY Daily News is not reliable, the newspaper has won multiple Pulitzer prizes (and there are many other sources that similarly report the witnesses' account of the engine flying 50-60 yards away). Alfy32 (talk) 12:59, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

Regarding NY Dsily News, I was referring to RS noticeboard archives, which say it isn't RS. But maybe it's worth another look... petrarchan47tc 19:00, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

Alfy32, I understand the you are editing the section about his death. You have completely ignored the fact that there was an explosion and fire. The neighbor reported that it sounded like a bomb went off in the middle of the night. She said, "my house shook & the windows were rattling." Obviously the engine flew because of the explosion and not because the car hit a tree. Please watch the videos showing the car on fire and listen to witnesses. These are reliable sources. Journalists interviewed them and filmed the car. --Jane955 (talk) 00:13, 10 July 2013 (UTC)

  • Jane955 the issue here is not about convincing me (or anyone) of his death's suspicious nature. It is important however to account for the controversy, which exists indeed. Readers can follow sources and form their own opinion. I agree it would be interesting however to expand the article with a "Controversy" paragraph, as it is growing, and as it is being commented upon by an ever larger number of reliable sources. Alfy32 (talk) 12:24, 10 July 2013 (UTC)

Alfy32, I am not trying to convince you about the suspicious nature of the accident. I just asked you to tell the truth, or present the accident as it actually happened. The car was on fire, wasn't it? Why is this not mentioned? Lets present all the facts that we know and not assume any thing. For example, we do not know what actually killed Michael; was it the tree, the fire or maybe he was killed earlier that night. We don't know and we shouldn't guess. --Jane955 (talk) 19:55, 10 July 2013 (UTC)

San Diego news report on crash investigation[edit]

Is here. petrarchan47tc 01:50, 10 July 2013 (UTC)

That story reads like conspiracy-theory literature. The writer gathered up all possible heavily interpreted non-evidence in an attempt to "put together the pieces" of some puzzle. The writer even mentioned thermite (ugh, where have we heard that before?) I'm hopeful that if anything actually does come out, we can get a more credible source than an opinion piece by a local CW affiliate's TV-news reporter. -Jordgette [talk] 02:24, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
It is, however, an additional source for the word "suspicious," so I added it. -Jordgette [talk] 02:36, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
You know that your opinion of this story is irrelevant, right? We don't consider random editor's opinions, we consider what is printed in RS. As for your determining exactly how and what details will be covered in this article, please take a look at WP:OWN. petrarchan47tc 02:49, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Reliable sources, exactly. Furthermore, my opinion appears to be shared by Tarage above. Regardless, the section seems to be stable and satisfactory as it now stands, so I'm not sure why the discussion continues. Shall we have an RfC, or are we done for now? -Jordgette [talk] 19:42, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Our opinions do not matter. If they did, building an article would be complete anarchy. RS is what matters, and yes, consensus. I would warn that one's obvious POV can get them topic banned, and is easily seen by their contribs. You and Tarage seem focused solely on one particular aspect of this one particular article right now. Wikipedia favours NPOV. petrarchan47tc 19:53, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Building an article is anarchy! Welcome to Wikipedia. But, you haven't addressed my question. Do we have consensus with the section, or shall we have an RfC to seek consensus on the reliable sources? -Jordgette [talk] 21:13, 10 July 2013 (UTC)

War on Journalism[edit]

Michael Hastings, "The Obama administration declared war on the press, especially on investigative journalists. The only recourse to this kind of behavior is to say back to the government, we declare war on you. From this point forward we should no longer as a media cooperate in any manner with the government, in terms of when we are doing national security stories. We should withdraw all our cooperation and publish everything we know, because its a free press. We've been way too easy going with these guys. We've let them get away with this for years. We let them tell us what to print, what not to print." Michael Hastings and The War on Journalism

I think its important to include this in the article. --Jane955 (talk) 12:08, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

Death by Vehicle Fire[edit]

Many of the already cited sources mention that there was a vehicle fire, which was possibly caused by the crash. If the article speculates that the crash/collision caused his death, its probably also valid to say crash and vehicle fire or maybe crash or vehicle fire would be better. This is an important distinction since most vehicle fires tend not to be associated with collisions error: There are <ref> tags on this page without content in them (see the help page). . Before you start to scream synthesis, I've only included this link in talk to support my point that there is a difference between a crash and vehicle fire, obviously not to be cited in the article. There are plenty of sources that already mention an intense fire at the scene. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:06, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

Richard A. Clarke - Hacking[edit]

Since Michael 'drove like a grandma' (according to his friends) and no one was chasing him, it seems suspicious that he would drive at such high speed. It is very possible that his car was hacked.

Dr. Kathleen Fisher, program manager from DARPA said that there is new technology that allows hacking & taking over a car.

Richard A. Clarke told The Huffington Post, "There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers, including the United States know how to remotely seize control of a car." He continues to explain," What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it's relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn't want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn't want the brakes on, you can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it's not that hard. In the case of Michael Hastings, what evidence is available publicly is consistent with a car cyber attack. And the problem with that is you can't prove it."

I think Clarke's comment is very important & should be mentioned somewhere in the article. --Jane955 (talk) 00:17, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

I also think enough sources say his death is suspicious, so that the comment is important. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:51, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

To the editors,

Could you please spell Clarke's name (in the article) Richard A. Clarke, since that is how it is spelled on Wikipedia. Then you can link directly to his page. Thank you, --Jane955 (talk) 19:36, 31 July 2013 (UTC)


Explosion prior to crash?[edit]

There was a recent addition that one eyewitness reported that Hastings' car exploded before crashing. I don't see that at all in the source that was added, and have never read this. Does anyone know if an eyewitness actually reported this? -Jordgette [talk] 19:28, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

Hi Jordgette, the eyewitness account is in the second source provided (San Diego 6): "An eyewitness at the scene, Jose, employed at nearby business ALSCO Inc said, the car was travelling very fast and he heard a couple explosions shortly before the car crashed." I imagine a lot of complicated things can happen before a car crashes, but in any event that's what he said. -Darouet (talk) 19:32, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
Here's a longer interview with the same man later, from the Young Turks. -Darouet (talk) 19:51, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
There's no reference to a pre-impact explosion in that interview. Only sparks and possibly flames. Since the car was bouncing at a high speed, that would at least explain the sparks. As far as I can tell, the mention of a pre-impact explosion or explosions, having been described by an eyewitness, is false and should be removed from the article. -Jordgette [talk] 20:09, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
I agree that sparks and flames are consistent with the car bouncing and striking objects prior to impact with the tree. San Diego 6's interview is, however, distinct from that of The Young Turks, and I think we should leave the witness's statement, despite your incredulity. -Darouet (talk) 14:57, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
There is a new video of the crash, and according to the LA Times [17]: "The video shows a car zipping by at a high rate of speed and then flames after the vehicle crashes." I have not watched the video because I don't want to see someone die; however, I assume the LA Times is correct and the witness, if he ever said this, is clearly incorrect. What exactly is the point of having this confusing, incorrect "eyewitness account" in the article? I should add that if we are to keep the eyewitness description of the crash, we now need to add the LA Times description of the crash to offset and correct it. I ask you, which source is more reliable here -- the LA Times describing a video they watched, or a freelance reporter for San Diego's CW TV station who writes conspiracy-laden opinion pieces? Can we please get serious here and not turn this article into an Alex Jones piece? -Jordgette [talk] 16:56, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the link. Unfortunately the video isn't available right now, but Michael Krikorian, who posted the video, describes it here. He writes, "About halfway between the curb and the tree, the car hits a metal protrusion—perhaps 30 inches tall and 2 feet wide—that gives access to city water mains below. This is where the first small flash occurs. This pipe may have damaged the undercarriage of the car, perhaps rupturing a fuel line. I looked at the tape frame by frame. A second flash immediately follows the first. It might be the brake lights, but it’s hard to tell. The next frame is dark. Then comes the first explosion, followed immediately by a large fireball."
I suppose that's consistent with what the eyewitness saw and heard, not that it needs to be, as both the video and the witnesses' view or memory likely give partial pictures of what happened. In any event, I think it's worthwhile to cite the witness, who apparently was the only individual who actually saw what happened there. I think you should also follow your own advice and add the other descriptions (or maybe that above, given by Krikorian). -Darouet (talk) 18:18, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
I just made some changes: see what you think. I don't know how much detail the crash needs, but I think the description as it stands now is reasonable: the eyewitness account and video both suggest that the car was already in flames or exploding prior to impact with the tree, and the subsequent catastrophic explosion, as a result of collisions with smaller objects before the tree. -Darouet (talk) 18:31, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
It's much too strong to say "Witnesses described explosions prior to the crash." One witness may have described this, but this description of a quote is from a single freelance writer (Kimberly Dvorak) and is certainly not described in the witness's on-camera interview. It is unclear whether Dvorak had a separate interview or is interpreting sparks and flames as "hearing explosions." At any rate, this section is getting extremely long and unnecessarily convoluted. I think we should have an RfC on this topic, as only a few editors are currently involved, to get a much broader consensus on what should and should not be included in the section. Certainly we don't need every detail of every account of the crash. -Jordgette [talk] 22:26, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

Michael's family[edit]

The article says, "Furthermore, Hastings' family does not believe Michael was assassinated..."

It is incorrect to say that, since his wife believes he was assassinated: "The wife of Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings, who was killed in what many people believe was a suspicious car crash last week, has vowed to “take down whoever did this."1 His friend Staff Sergeant Joseph Biggs defiantly does not think its an accident and has discussed this on different media outlets.

Also Hasting's body was cremated, even though his family did not request this. The wife has hired a private investigator.2 --Jane955 (talk) 08:15, 28 July 2013 (UTC)

The statement is correct as far as the source is concerned. -Jordgette [talk] 09:05, 28 July 2013 (UTC)

Wiki is a summary of different articles and they are implying that the whole family does not question this accident, which is completely false. The wife has even hired a private investigator. They could write 'The parents believe....and the wife believes.....'

Any way, I agree with your previous comment. There is a problem with what they wrote, about the explosion prior to the impact. On TYT (if the translation is correct) a witness named Jose said that there were only flames & sparks before the car hit the tree. He talks about explosions after the car hit the tree. The Wiki article gives this link 6CW(or Reference #43 on the article page), which tells a completely different story. They write, 'An eyewitness at the scene, Jose, employed at nearby business ALSCO Inc said, the car was travelling very fast and he heard a couple explosions shortly before the car crashed.' If the first translation is correct, then what they wrote in the article is incorrect. --Jane955 (talk) 13:37, 28 July 2013 (UTC)

Death Details[edit]

Probably should not have both sparks before crash and exploded after crashing, its somewhat contradictory. I suggested, previously, crash and vehicle fire, there is no reason to assume the fire began before or after the crash as of now. The surveilance video from Pizzeria Mozza is not clear enough to prove either way, although the pre-collision sparks are rather large for viewing from that distance. From what's available anyone saying either before or after is unreliable in my opinion. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:42, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

Hastings' widow - BLP issue[edit]

I'm concerned that the following violates our Biographies of living persons policy:

According to Biggs, Hastings' wife Elise Jordan promised to "take down whoever did this"

This is secondhand information, it is sourced to RT (TV network), a Russian state media entity, which I consider somewhat dubious. Elise Jordan has her own twitter feed[18], which she has updated since Hastings' death in order to comment and correct the record on Hastings and his work. Given that she has chosen not to state her position herself on Twitter, or in any interview that I can find, I think it is problematic that we rely on a friend of Hastings' to tell us what she is thinking. Note that BLP covers the recently deceased.GabrielF (talk) 03:14, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

I agree. Sub-par sourcing has been a problem in this section. -Jordgette [talk] 18:05, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
I have no problem with the removal, but it is incorrect to say that RT is not RS, and our opinions of it do not matter. It is used extensively in this encyclopedia, you can visit the Edward Snowden article to find many examples of this. petrarchan47tc 01:09, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
For what its worth, I agree with Petrarchan47 here, but with provisos. GabrielF, you are also correct that RT is a Russian "Federal State Unitary Enterprise". However, neutrality and reliability are not always the same thing. Occasionally, because their interests are not aligned with the typical DC beat players, they run with stories that otherwise get buried. Further, RT has 80 international bureaus that are managed independently. A single political agenda cannot be enforced on an organization of that size that, at least outside of Russia, depends on, even in the most critical analysis, the illusion of objectivity. TL;DR RT sometimes has great work on stories on the US and covers many US agencies don't. That said, not the best source of info for the Euromaiden or Chechen politics. Jay Dubya (talk) 00:53, 24 March 2014 (UTC)


I am removing the following claim from the article:

According to San Diego 6 reporter Kimberly Dvorak, Hastings' remains were cremated and returned to Vermont even though his family did not request the corpse to be cremated.

There is nothing in the cited San Diego 6 article[19] to indicate that the family did not want the body cremated. A google search shows the claim repeated in some lousy publications ( but I cannot find any reliable source that makes this claim. GabrielF (talk) 04:53, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

Good. Dvorak is an independent reporter whose highly biased stories on Hastings have been run by a local affiliate of the CW television network ("San Diego 6"). One recent Dvorak article claims the car was only going 35 MPH; another supposes it was destroyed with thermite. Even if this news outlet were a reliable source (which it isn't, as you've just demonstrated), it is easy to see how this is the epitome of undue weight. -Jordgette [talk] 20:43, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
There is no indication that the media outlet is unreliable simply because it accurately reports different perspectives from different witnesses and means of analysis. That is actually something we expect from a reliable news source. Wnt (talk) 17:51, 19 August 2013 (UTC)
The more important issue here is undue weight. This has been discussed at length above. The "San Diego 6 reporter" is the only source in the world that has made this analysis or claim, despite this being a story of international interest; and the writer has a clear conspiracy-theory POV in regards to this story, having previously surmised that the car was detonated with thermite, etc. (see long discussion above). The reporter's stories are also entirely inconsistent; in one, she cites a witness claiming that the car was going its maximum speed; in another, it has been "analyzed" to have been going 35 mph. I am removing the San Diego 6 material citing undue weight. -Jordgette [talk] 18:09, 19 August 2013 (UTC)


Someone should probably continue to update the part pertaining to this Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page without content in them (see the help page). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:16, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

Good call. Page is updated to clarify the records and attachments are released. They total 21 pages, and do not indicate that Hastings was the target of an investigation. I've done a lot of work recently on Ryan Shapiro's page; I think a link would be warranted, as that page discusses his FOIA requests and DOJ lawsuit that forced the FBI to release these documents. The surrounding controversy was widely publicized and has a documented federal circuit decision. What does the community think? Jay Dubya (talk) 00:20, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

Drug levels at time of crash[edit]

Perhaps this info could be added to the article somehow, for comparison's sake:

  • Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Test (Initial Drug Cutoff Levels):

THC: 50 ng/ml. Amphetamine: 500 ng/ml

  • Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Test (Confirmatory Drug Cutoff Levels):

THC: 15 ng/ml. Amphetamine: 250 ng/ml

  • Michael Hastings Coroner's Toxicology Report:

THC: 12 ng/ml. Amphetamine: 50 ng/ml


Please note that the fairly high level of Carboxy-THC does not indicate he was intoxicated at the time of the collision. Carboxy-THC is different from THC. Carboxy-THC can remain in the blood for weeks after marijuana use but does not cause impairment, no matter how elevated the level. (talk) 10:09, 21 August 2013 (UTC)

Please read WP:SYNTH. We would require a reliable secondary source to make comparative claims such as this. There are a lot of problems with making such comparisons ourselves - one that springs to mind immediately is the potential difference in the testing procedure between urinalysis and an autopsy. We can certainly quote the report's conclusion that drug use was "unlikely contributory to death". GabrielF (talk) 16:52, 21 August 2013 (UTC)
The autopsy report said he was not intoxicated at the time of the crash, and that drugs played no part in it. Perhaps we should go with this presentation rather than the sensationalized version media came out with, namely to leave this information as a side note, and to play up the traces of (in the case of cannabis:legally prescribed) medicine and amphetamines (which can indicate meth use, but also Ritalin and other legal medications that he was known to use sometimes). The point is the he was not drunk or under the influence of any other drugs when the car crashed. petrarchan47tc 01:16, 22 August 2013 (UTC)
I think that's how the article currently reads. I am against stripping the article of the toxicology findings, however, as they play prominently in the secondary coverage of the autopsy report and are mentioned in most headlines of the major papers. Also by digging deeper, we learn that relatives said Hastings had been using the hallucinogen DMT and that they were in town to encourage him to check into rehab. Finally, we learn that in 1999 Hastings abused Ritalin and crashed into a pole, and had also declared himself "invincible"[20]. I'm not saying these sordid details should be in the article, but the tox findings and coroner's report present a picture very different from the clean-and-sober, "drove like a grandma" image that had been painted by Kimberly Dvorak et al. -Jordgette [talk] 02:07, 22 August 2013 (UTC)
No, the toxicology reports say he was not under the influence. If we decide to exclude "conspiracy theorists" like Dvorjak, we should be consistent and ignore tabloid reporting like the kind we are seeing now, with editors trying to make the case for drug use/dangerous driving (and obviously, given your comments, the spin worked in shaping perception) when the basic, most encyclopedic fact is that he was legally sober at the time of the crash. If we are to add information about a relapse and possible detox, it wouldn't go in the 'death' section. I would rather see more reports, ones with less sensationalism, with more facts and depth, before composing such a section, if we deem it necessary at all. The only thing that should be mentioned in the death section with regard to drug use, is that it wasn't a factor. As an encyclopedia, we don't treat information exactly like "most headlines of the major papers" do. petrarchan47tc 10:23, 22 August 2013 (UTC)
Fine, but experienced editors will agree that it's not okay to add "It is worth noting" to the article followed by original material regarding the link between amphetamine in the blood and Adderall or prescription drugs, when those things have not been mentioned in reliable sources. -Jordgette [talk] 19:10, 22 August 2013 (UTC)
No one has argued in support of the IP's OR - I was pointing out other issues. petrarchan47tc 23:34, 22 August 2013 (UTC)
You really need to stop the character assassination of Hastings. The drugs present in his body had absolutely nothing to do with the crash. There should be no mention of them. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Farquezy (talkcontribs) 02:34, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
Seriously? I first read this article today after reading a reference to Michael Hastings in a blog comment discussing how he was essentially assassinated by the government (or some such). After reading the Wikipedia article, I did a simple search on Michael Hastings. One of the top results was from ABC: indicating that the family was encouraging him to go to detox as well as discussing the toxicology report. I then came back here to see why in the world that relevant information was nowhere to be found in the Wikipedia article. All this does is make me question the veracity of the Wikipedia article: it's biased and lacking in credibility due to the intentional suppression of this information. (talk) 20:18, 30 January 2014 (UTC)
That article states that neither drug was responsible for his car exploding. This article makes the point more directly: petrarchan47tc 20:24, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

Addition of Info on Drugs Incidental to Death (as cited by law to be causal factor in accident):

The Coroner's Report, LAPD Investigation, and actual family statements...(family members interviewed by investigators cited herein, not interviews by reporters)...these legal reports are all well-sourced public, legal documents which give the only legal reasons contributing to his death. These are the same pages cited here which the police, courts, and insurance investigators use and cite as a source for their legal decisions so it should be enough to cite for this Wikipedia article. Thus, it is both objective and should be required for an objective reporting of his death. This more than warrants inclusion. It is not editorial, speculative, subjective, conspiracy, slander, nor poorly-sourced media accounts (or character assasination as some have claimed). These are simple statements of fact by the only law enforcement investigation - and medical examining authority - into Hastings' death. The family, and widow, and friends in journalism accept it as fact too. It must be included in an objective article on his death/accident, which this article must be in order to meet standards and practices of Wikipedia's community. Which is why I have included it, and documented it directing to the original legal source (the report sheets proper, not second or third-hand sourced from other sites or media articles). Denying or not including this information, or deleting what I have added, would place the burden upon anyone wishing to do so to justify a legitimate, accepted factual rule for doing so. Otherwise deleting such factual (and legal) information would be prejudicial to the objectivity which is the guiding principle of all Wikipedia articles. That is the sole purpose for inclusion of this relevant and factual objective edit/addition, in order to present a balanced fact-based summary of the subject for posterity. Thank you. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:45, 9 August 2015 (UTC)

HERE is a link to the actual legal reports from the Coroner and LAPD investigators. Please read and comprehend the entire document. If you don't wish to read the entire document, please look at least at pages 2 and 3. Here is the link: If you prefer, you can contact the Medical Examiner's Office to verify the validity of the report. This is the same report (footnote 61 in main article) I have cited in my article edit/addition. I have written hundreds of these legal reports myself; testified to them in court; and know every in and out to C-O-D reports in accident investigations. I have been doing this almost 15 years, and this is an unimpeachable legal document universally accepted as such (including by Hastings' family). It must be acceptable as such for the purposes of an objective article. Again, the goal is for a complete, factual article. Citing these report documents surpasses Wikipedia standards, and well-accepted contributor citation for legitimate sourcing. Thank you. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:58, 9 August 2015 (UTC)

While all of the above may be true, the editor unilaterally chose to add these details to the encyclopedia. The question is, what reliable secondary sources cite these primary sources and decided that they were significantly important to Hastings' story? Smartse is right that drawing directly from a primary source in a case like this is inappropriate; it amounts to synthesis. The edit also bears resemblance to / creates the impression of a personal smear, which is not helped by the anonymity of the edit. -Jordgette [talk] 05:25, 10 August 2015 (UTC)

Neighbor Interview[edit] error: There are <ref> tags on this page without content in them (see the help page). this source already cited reports on Hastings asking his neighbor Thigpen to borrow her car the night before his death, and also recently expressing his belief to her that someone tampered with his vehicle. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:54, 25 August 2013 (UTC)

We seem to be moving in the direction of avoiding discussing Hastings' psychological state (the LA Weekly interview also mentions his belief that he was being followed by helicopters) and drug use in the month before his death, instead mentioning only the relevant details of the autopsy report. Taking the car-tampering quote out of this context would be a case of POV selective quoting, in my opinion. -Jordgette [talk] 00:09, 26 August 2013 (UTC)

If his family's belief that it was an accident is valid material, then this is too. Also probably more relevant is that he asked to borrow the neighbors car around the same time he sent the e-mail already referenced to his colleages. From reading the time stamps on the comments above, its hard to beliieve that you spent enough time reading that article to actually formulate a worthwhile contribution to talk regarding its veracity as an addition.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

I had already read that article. Cool it with the accusations please. -Jordgette [talk] 18:12, 26 August 2013 (UTC)

I'm going to make some revisions when I get a chance. error: There are <ref> tags on this page without content in them (see the help page). Please try to leave conspiracy propaganda at Wikipedia's front door Jordgette.

I am trying to do exactly that. Can someone explain to me the relevance of Hastings believing that his car was tampered with, in the section about his death? Are you trying to create the impression that he was assassinated, even though no reliable source has published evidence for that, or has expressed that even as an opinion?
If the car tampering detail goes in, then the helicopter paranoia and "increasingly erratic" behavior goes in too. Note that the helicopter fears and erratic behavior are included in the Fox News story linked above as well. It is called context. Both the LA Weekly and Fox News articles are careful to include the context of not only the erratic behavior, but also the addiction relapse, so that is what we must do here. If any editor reads these articles and then extracts a bare, out-of-context, seemingly credible mention that Hastings thought his car had been tampered with ... then that is the very definition of tendentious POV editing. -Jordgette [talk] 18:08, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
So this goes in now with recent changes? I will fix it soon.

I'm fine with either adding just he asked to borrow her car or he thought it was tampered with, asked to borrow her car, and erratic behavior e.g. helicopters. But relating that directly to perscription drug ab/use is wikisynthesis, especially since reports now say the drug levels at the time of the crash probably were unrelated to him crashing, and its definitly your opinion that the fox article directly relates the two. They just happen to be getting reported on at the same time, since the toxicology story broke when this interview did. Its your interpretation that the evidence is consistent with an assassination, not mine, you did say it was suspicious before, wikipedia is not a place for conspiracy theorists sorry.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

It is, when the media are talking about conspiracy theorists.[21][22][23] On that note, maybe it's time for a sentence in the "Reaction" section that the Michael Hastings case has generated conspiracy theories? Thoughts? -Jordgette [talk] 06:36, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Make a different section if you want to talk about conspiracies. Its off base in the talk I made with regard to a specific factual interview to spam it with things about conspiracy theories, stop please thanks.

My bad, I thought you were advocating for a new section in the article. I will adjust the section below. In the mean time, would you mind fixing my Talk page? You inserted a new section before someone else's old comment, and now it's all messed up. The new section should be at the bottom of my Talk page. This is made more confusing by the fact that you won't log in, sign your discussion comments, or indent when you're replying. It's just difficult to have a coherent discussion when these things are happening. -Jordgette [talk] 00:26, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

I'll consider your advice. I did fix your page though!

Mention conspiracy theories in Death/Reactions section?[edit]

It might be helpful to insert a sentence acknowledging Michael Hastings conspiracy theories, at the beginning of the Richard Clarke paragraph: "Hastings' death has led to a number of conspiracy theories.[24][25][26]" I realize this is a hot-button issue, but the Clarke conjecture is already in the article; plus, Hastings' brother mentions conspiracy. Perhaps this would provide some context. -Jordgette [talk] 00:44, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

I'm not opposed to the comment, but have not seen a RS with respect to Clarke, so it would be better in reactions general, in my opinion. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:26, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

FBI file: undue weight?[edit]

User:A1candidate added about 1500 bytes regarding Hastings' FBI file. This section strikes me as undue weight. The file seems routine - not much more than press clippings. I don't see anything that describes the significance of this material - for instance, is it standard procedure for the FBI to place on file high-profile media articles related to national security matters? It's not clear to me that there's anything encyclopedic about this section. GabrielF (talk) 01:44, 20 September 2013 (UTC)

Well, isn't the whole controversy about the FBI and Hastings? -A1candidate (talk) 01:55, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
This is an encyclopedia article on the life of a journalist. While there has been some discussion regarding whether or not the FBI was investigating Hastings, that is only one aspect of his life. It isn't even clear to me what relevance this particular file has to Hastings' claim that the FBI was investigating him. GabrielF (talk) 02:08, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
Some reports that I have read claim that the file is typical of an FBI investigation, so along those lines, anything from FBI is not an RS, for this specific section of the article. I'll post them if I find them again. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:16, 21 September 2013 (UTC)
The major aspect about his life is that he dead, tot, mort, muerto. At 33. "This is an encyclopedia article on dead journalist." versus "This is an encyclopedia article on the life of a journalist.": Bowe Bergdahl Linked to Michael Hastings : -- (talk) 08:09, 18 July 2014 (UTC)
"It isn't even clear to me what relevance this particular [FBI] file [on Hastings] has to Hastings' claim that the FBI was investigating him." It's relevant because Hastings claimed the FBI was investigating him, and he was right, at the very least. -Darouet (talk) 03:56, 19 July 2014 (UTC)

"That many believe his death was not accidental is a well-sourced point of view"[edit]

I just wanted to point out that many are idiots.

The reliable sources themselves do not advance the POV expressed by the sign in the photo. I don't understand why we need to provide a POV for conspiracy theorists who are/were ignorant of recent developments toward the end of Hastings' life, a fringe POV that is rejected not only by the reliable sources but also by his own family. -Jordgette [talk] 01:54, 25 November 2014 (UTC)

Quite honestly, I'm surprised at your visceral response over this photo. It's just a picture of the crash tree with memorial stuff and a sign saying this was no accident. It's there. It's part of the story. Maybe you'd rather parts of the story you don't like are simply not mentioned? And reliable sources don't have to agree with one side or another. They simply need to acknowledge that the viewpoints/beliefs exist.
Actually, from what I've read, there's been a bit of a push and pull over this tree as well. First someone puts up a sign saying this was no accident, then someone else comes along, tears down the sign and puts another up saying go to sleep people, this was an accident.[5] Amusing stuff.
Personally, while I understand why some people have suspicions, I tend to believe that Hastings died in a plain vanilla crash because he was driving way too fast for the road and it was all his own doing. I only mention my views because I don't want anyone to think I'm some sort of rabid editor trying to "push" one view or another. I like to think I subscribe to this quaint little idea that used to be all the rage around here called NEUTRAL point of view. You know, where we represent fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic. – JBarta (talk) 02:38, 25 November 2014 (UTC)
Actually, I'd feel better about the photo if the sign were acknowledged in the caption. Something like: "Tree at the Hastings crash site in July, 2013. Some people find the circumstances of the crash suspicious." with a reference showing that suspicion in the popular opinion existed well after the crash. To leave the sign unaddressed raises more questions than the photo answers, and it also fuels a certain kind of unfortunate imagination, as if the reader has discovered something by clicking on the picture. Putting the fringe opinion in plain view is more appropriate. -Jordgette [talk] 06:54, 25 November 2014 (UTC)
Your concerns are a little overblown IMO, but I have no objection to editing the caption as you suggest. – JBarta (talk) 07:12, 25 November 2014 (UTC)

Mention on conspiracy theories?[edit]

I came here to get a peek on the latest development on investigation of his death. I don't really buy conspiracy theories myself but what strikes me is that there is a lack of mention on all that talk about his death being non-accidental. Scrolling to a few discussions above, it seems obvious that someone's trying to block these views despite these allegations being well-sourced.

Why, guys? (talk) 09:33, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

OK, I stumble upon a few sentences covering that in the Death section, which is fine. However, getting a sub-heading would be decent. The reason why this merits a bit more emphasis is not because the conspiracy theories are necessarily convincing but that it coincided with Snowden's first public appearance and there were widespread suspicion on foul play at the time. Not to mention, the high profile coverage of speculations of his death is largely what singled him out in the view of the general public. (talk) 09:45, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
  • As seen above, I have been cautious about this, but I now feel a balanced section or sub section with quotes and information from reliable sources is a must. Jusdafax 10:04, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Indeed because for such a defining part of his (post-humous) public claim to fame, leaving it out is simply just another form of POV. There's definitely a way to cover and highlight everything with NPOV and no COATRACKing. (talk) 19:26, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
I have added a simple subsection title, seeing no other comments here, as a start. It is obvious to me that updating and further work are needed. Hopefully, 18 months after Hastings' death, a NPOV approach can be applied by all editors. Jusdafax 21:50, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
I'd agree with most of what's written above. We have strict rules governing biographical articles, but the circumstances of Hastings' death, the theories surrounding them, and repeated references to these in reliable sources are obviously not defamatory. To the contrary. Furthermore, Hasting's belief that his car was tampered with the evening before his death should be noted in the first paragraph of the section describing his death. -Darouet (talk) 22:26, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Let's not get carried away. Mentioning that some believe his death was no accident and deliberately crafting the article to suggest it's true are two different things. WP:FRINGE applies... tread carefully and with restraint. – JBarta (talk) 02:46, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Specifically making an effort to omit Hastings' concern that his car was tampered with, the very day of his accident, would make the reverse blunder. -Darouet (talk) 03:13, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
It's not omitted. Where and how it's mentioned is the issue. You suggested mentioning it in the first paragraph of the death section. Probably not a good idea. Somewhere in the conspiracy section (where it is now)... probably a better idea. – JBarta (talk) 03:20, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
I would also note that the conspiracy section already takes up 2/3 of the death section. We're already pushing WP:UNDUE to the limit. Others (not as welcoming and broadminded as myself) might say its already over the limit. So, let's keep that in mind as well. – JBarta (talk) 03:28, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
I agree. Two-thirds of the secondary coverage on Hastings' death, at least at this point in time, does not deal with conspiracy allegations. Further expanding the conspiracy section is inappropriate, and personally I would not object to reducing it (which is why I did not object when another editor cut Richard Clarke's observations, which have since been restored). -Jordgette [talk] 22:13, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Richard Clarke is a notable person in this general (more or less) area. He actually makes a fairly even-handed statement on the matter (at least as it's noted here) and I think its inclusion here is appropriate. – JBarta (talk) 22:47, 22 December 2014 (UTC)


Sprawling conspiracy theory section built of poor sourcing, innuendo, and undue weight[edit]

I've already removed improper citations to tabloids and the World Socialist Web Site, for pete's sake. Out of the rest of this steaming pile of prose, the best sourcing for actual conspiracy claims comes from Huffington Post and Fox News, and the rest seems to be innuendo, i.e. vaguely hinting at some dark conspiracy without actually claiming it exists. Another tidbit claims that "some media outlets" reported that Hastings received death threats from the military, and meanwhile all that seems to be supported by sources is that one outlet reported that Hastings claimed he received these threats.

WP:REDFLAG tells us to exercise caution in cases of "surprising or apparently important claims not covered by multiple mainstream sources". Claims about a conspiracy theory of corrupt assassination of a civilian reporter by the highest levels of U.S. military power clearly fit this bill, and thus we're instructed to exclude material like this unless it all of the exceptional claims are substantiated with "multiple high-quality sources" (emphasis in original).

In other words this section needs to be dramatically cut down and re-sourced, to the extent it remains at all. Centrify (f / k / a Factchecker_has_annoying_username) (talk) (contribs) 13:14, 20 May 2015 (UTC)

I'm all for cutting down the section. I've pushed against inclusion of this material almost since it began. -Jordgette [talk] 18:54, 20 May 2015 (UTC)

Conspiracy theorist cited[edit]

Article cites a known conspiracy theorist Kimberly Dvorak as a source for the citation claiming "some described the circumstances surrounding the crash as suspicious."

Also, article cites that same source claiming a "death threat" by an "unnamed staffer" mentioned in "Hastings book, “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan,”".
Neither is true.
Firstly, so called "unnamed staffer" is named 18 times in this excerpt alone - he is "Jake McFerren, a retired Army colonel and longtime McChrystal friend and confidant". Secondly, he apologized.

"A few minutes later, McChrystal and I started talking again. Jake interrupted.
“Sorry about threatening to kill you,” Jake said.
It was the first time anyone in the group had acknowledged the blow­out on Friday night.
“Yeah, geez, the guy is just trying to do his job,” McChrystal said.
“No worries. Like I said, it happens all the time, but yeah, you’re probably the highest rank to do so,” I said. I laughed, and they didn’t."-- (talk) 21:09, 20 August 2016 (UTC)

I am on record multiple times on this page as being against inclusion of the conspiracy speculations, and I wouldn't mind seeing all of them removed at this late date. Including the disingenuous "consistent with cyberattack" claims of Richard Clarke, who was promoting a book on cyber-warfare when Hastings died. -Jordgette [talk] 22:39, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
I also feel that the recently added quote from The Operators is entirely inappropriate. -Jordgette [talk] 16:42, 26 August 2016 (UTC)
Criticism of Hasting's book is worthless here, and I'm skeptical of proscribing citation of Dvorak, even when she's published in high quality outlets, based on an article from Mother Jones. Agree completely with Jordgette though: I've removed the text from that section and shortened it to make it far less prominent in the section on his book. -Darouet (talk) 17:05, 26 August 2016 (UTC)
Also, the implication that Clarke said those things just to promote his book is ludicrous. He writes books full time now, and despite his professional participation in the US War on Terror at the highest levels, has repeatedly criticized aspects of US anti-terrorism or war policies. -Darouet (talk) 17:09, 26 August 2016 (UTC)

Vault 7[edit]

From WikiLeaks’ Vault 7 series “Year Zero” press release: "As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations." Is it important to include this in the article? -- (talk) 18:55, 9 March 2017 (UTC)

Hastings died in 2013, so, no. The CIA looking into the possibility over a year later is not relevant to the article. Perhaps more important, though, adding this detail would be synthesis: We need a reliable source to make the connection between Hastings and this Wikileaks passage before it goes into the article. We WP editors can't make that speculative connection. -Jordgette [talk] 20:55, 9 March 2017 (UTC)
Problems with the March 20 2017 attempt to add this material: (1) A discussion board on a website (eetimes) is not a reliable source. (2) As far as I can tell, David Proffer is not notable as a car researcher. (3) is not a reliable source. -Jordgette [talk] 01:24, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

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