US reporter who felled Gen McChrystal dies in crash

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Michael Hastings, the Rolling Stone journalist who triggered the 2010 downfall of US Afghanistan commander General Stanley McChrystal, died in a car crash Tuesday, his employer announced.

Mr Hastings, whose profile of Gen McChrystal quoted the four-star general as criticising President Barack Obama and his senior advisers, died in Los Angeles. He was 33, according to his current employer, BuzzFeed.

"We are shocked and devastated by the news that Michael Hastings is gone," said Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of the news website which the late reporter joined in February last year.

"Michael was a great, fearless journalist with an incredible instinct for the story, and a gift for finding ways to make his readers care about anything he covered from wars to politicians," he added.

Gen McChrystal was summoned to Washington by Mr Obama in June 2010 and swiftly relieved of his command after comments attributed to him and his aides in the magazine article, headlined "The Runaway General." In the profile, Gen McChrystal aides mocked Vice President Joe Biden, called the president's national security adviser "a clown," and said the general was "disappointed" by his first meeting with Mr Obama.

Gen McChrystal himself was quoted deriding the US special envoy to the region, Richard Holbrooke, and saying he felt "betrayed" by the ambassador to Kabul, Karl Eikenberry, who had raised pointed objections to his war strategy.

BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Mr Smith said Mr Hastings "wrote stories that would otherwise have gone unwritten, and without him there are great stories that will go untold." Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana also paid tribute to Mr Hastings, who was a contributing editor to the bi-weekly magazine. "Great reporters exude a certain kind of electricity," he said.

Such journalists give off "the sense that there are stories burning inside them, and that there's no higher calling or greater way to live life than to be always relentlessly trying to find and tell those stories."

Mr Obama replaced Gen McChrystal in Afghanistan with David Petraeus, the talismanic general who rescued a losing war in Iraq and was one of the most decorated and respected military people of his generation.

Gen Petraeus went on to lead the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 2011, but resigned in disgrace in November 2012 after admitting an affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell, 20 years his junior.

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