From Robert Stacy McCain’s profile of Michael Hastings at ViralRead, the left-wing Buzzfeed reporter who died in a one-person car crash in Los Angeles earlier this week. McCain points out that Hastings was “openly contemptuous” of journalistic objectivity, fantasized about “taking out” presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, and preferred to cover the Democrats during the 2008 president election because he “wasn’t appalled by their basic ideas.”
As a political reporter, Hastings was openly contemptuous of objectivity, a liberal who shared the anti-war, anti-Republican sentiments widespread in his generation of journalists. In a GQ article recounting his work covering the 2008 presidential campaign for Newsweek, he called former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani a dangerous “maniac”:
On one of my first days, I watched Rudy deliver his stump speech in Peterborough, New Hampshire. As you might imagine, it was a little focused on the “terrorist war against us.” His solution was to “go on the offense” — meaning more aggressive torture techniques, recklessly increasing the size of our military forces, fighting an unending war in Iraq, and possibly bombing the shit out of Iran. …
I quickly realized Rudy was a maniac. I had a recurring fantasy in which I took him out during a press conference … saving America from the horror of a President Giuliani.
Hastings rejected objective journalism as a fraud and said most reporters secretly shared his views:
Objectivity is a fallacy. In campaign reporting more than any other kind of press coverage, reporters aren’t just covering a story, they’re a part of it — influencing outcomes, setting expectations, framing candidates — and despite what they tell themselves, it’s impossible to both be a part of the action and report on it objectively. …
I wasn’t alone in the press corps. I don’t think I spoke to another journalist who ever said one good thing about [Giuliani]. What did we say? We made fun of his divorces and his wives, that he’d married a second cousin, that he surrounded himself with corrupt cronies, that he had a piss-poor relationship with his children, etc. We talked about his megalomania and his cynical exploitation of September 11.
Describing his own habits on the campaign trail, Hastings said he watched pay-per-view pornographic videos in hotel rooms and said masturbating to porn “was not unlike the larger experience of campaign reporting.” After Giuliani dropped out, ceding the GOP nomination to Sen. John McCain, Hastings switched to covering Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the Democrat nomination. “I thought it might be better jumping over to the Democrats; at least I wasn’t appalled by their basic ideas,” Hastings wrote, but sympathized more with her rival, Barack Obama. come to truly hate his campaign staff and their smug belief, based, unfortunately, on an accurate reading of the past, that they can lie to our faces and we’ll swallow it.”
Read the full profile here.