Depending on who you believe, Michael Hastings was either a troubled young man struggling with addiction (and possibly mental illness) who crashed his car into a tree and died or he's an investigative journalist who was on the verge of outing something big and was killed because the government tampered with his vehicle to prevent the truth from coming out.
Now, many of those in the conspiracy theory camp are the same people in other conspiracy theory camps, which means to say that they have a heavy presence in the comments section of any blog post with Alex Jones' name in it. But, that doesn't account for everyone who questions the legitimacy of the rulings and statements from government agencies on the matter.
Regardless of your current feelings on the topic, you should spend a little while with Bejamin Wallace's feature on Hastings published by New York magazine. Over the course of seven pages online, Wallace expounds on Hastings' career and personal life and includes anecdotes and stories from the man's friends, colleagues, and family members.
Wallace retraces the route Hastings drove on the night of his death back in June, describes the projects Hastings was juggling at the time of his death, and looks to show all sides of Hastings as a journalist and, more importantly, as a person. Do yourself a favor and dive in here.
By the middle of June, though, Hastings, then 33, had become openly afraid. Helicopters are a common sight in the Hollywood Hills, but he had told Jordanna Thigpen, a neighbor he’d become close to, that there were more of them in the sky than usual, and he was certain they were tracking him. On Saturday the 15th, he called Matt Farwell, his writing partner, and said Farwell might be interviewed by the FBI. Farwell was unsettled. “He was being really cagey over the phone, which was odd, very odd,” Farwell says. On the 17th, Hastings e-mailed colleagues at BuzzFeed to warn them that “the Feds are interviewing my ‘close friends and associates’ ”; he was “onto a big story” and needed to go “off the rada[r] for a bit … hope to see you all soon.”
“He was deeply agitated,” says The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur. Since Hastings didn’t want to say anything more over e-mail or the phone, Farwell, who lived in Virginia, set up a lunch for him the following Thursday with a trusted friend of Farwell’s, also in L.A., so that she could pass along whatever Hastings had to tell him on her forthcoming trip East.
The lunch never happened. At 4:20 a.m. on Tuesday, June 18, Hastings’s silver Mercedes C250 coupe, speeding south on Highland Avenue, crossed Melrose, jumped the median, hit a palm tree, and exploded. The charred body of the driver was identified by the Los Angeles coroner as John Doe 117 until fingerprints confirmed that the deceased was Michael Hastings. [NYMag]