Monday, September 24, 2012

Michael Hastings had it coming

I don't write vulgarities in my blog posts, and using words with missing letters is a weak alternative so I'm just going to link to the original text here. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's deputy assistant Philippe Reines got into a heated email exchange with Buzzfeed writer Michael Hastings and Buzzfeed pounced on him for telling Hastings off in a vulgar manner.

But the expose on this exchange came from that very same Buzzfeed article. All one has to do is read the email exchange.

Hastings wrote to Reines asking why slain Ambassador J. Christopher Steven's diary was left behind in the embassy and wanted to know if other sensitive information was left behind. Reines shifted the focus to CNN, how the news network had nicked the diary, asked the family for permission to use it, when denied they said they wouldn't but went ahead and ran it anyways but didn't come out and say where they were getting the information from.

Hastings was rude and accusatory from the start, peppering his question with person opinions like "I found your statement to CNN offensive." He is also the one who brought vulgarities into the exchange, not Reines, which contradicts the Buzzfeed introduction for the same article.

Megan McArdle makes a good point that Hastings had some legitimate questions, such as how the diary contradicts official reports, but was obnoxious about it. While I agree with her that Reines shouldn't have behaved unprofessionally, why is Hastings allowed to behave like a child?

Reines was right on the mark when he said "Why do you bother to ask questions you've already decided you know the answers to?" to Hastings. A real journalist doesn't get emotionally involved in the story, he looks for information where he can find it. Hastings wasn't there for that, he was more concerned with lashing out at someone like a cable opinion show host.

Hastings behavior was unacceptable and Reines' reaction was understandable. Hastings went in like a bully and when Reines didn't cower he went whining to the Internet.

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