A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How Hastings Got the Story

Newsweek has an interview with Michael Hastings on how-he-got-the-McChrystal-Story. This may tell more than anything:
One of the most vivid scenes in the stories comes when you are out with the general, his wife, and his team for a night on the town in Paris. His team is entirely forthright with you, did that surprise you?

Well, they were getting hammered, I don’t know at that moment if they were being the most forthright. Of course it was surprising. A lot of the reporting that is getting most of the attention happened right away in the first few days in Paris. So I was surprised—because they didn’t know me.
They were also stuck in Europe for a while due to the volcano, and the whole visit turned into something much longer than expected.

Okay, I can see it: military men who've been stuck in Kabul and Kandahar are in Paris with wives and the wine is flowing and there's some reporter along but who cares . . .? It makes more sense that this was a case of loose tongues on a European liberty rather than a conscious decision to go on record about these things. Either way, of course, it was a stupid move, but this makes it a little more humanly comprehensible. Also:
It was always clear that you were a reporter and you were, in essence, on the record? And more, the entire article was thoroughly fact-checked, yes?

Yes. It was crystal clear to me, and I was walking around with a tape recorder and a notepad in my hand three-quarters of the time. I didn’t have the Matt Drudge press hat on, but everything short of that it was pretty obvious I was a reporter writing a profile of the general for Rolling Stone. It was always very clear.
Even if some of those present didn't know he was a reporter, anything said in front of a civilian could come back to haunt. Loose lips still sink ships, even if there aren't many ships in Afghanistan.

1 comment:

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