Mother Jones Upset Reporter Covering Michael Hastings' Death Not Just Taking LAPD's Word For It

May be confused about definition of journalism


why couldn't you just trust government spokespersons?
John Santore/Wikipedia

Kimberly Dvorak is an investigative journalist with the CW affiliate in San Diego and a correspondent for the Examiner websites. She's been covering Michael Hastings' death skeptically, and seems to believe foul play was involved. Last week we relayed her reporting on what Hastings was covering before his death—whether John Brennan was involved in a crackdown on journalists—and pointed out how ridiculous it was for government spokespersons to feign being offended at the suggestion government officials might have something less than total respect for the free press. This, in the eyes of Mother Jones, is akin to conspiracy theory-coddling.

The liberal magazine's take down of Dvorak begins thusly:

The Los Angeles Police Department has ruled out foul play in journalist Michael Hastings' fatal car crash two months ago in Hollywood, but several media outlets are continuing to promote conspiracy theories about the circumstances surrounding his death.

The lede is packed with a major assumption, that the LAPD ought to just be taken for its word on the matter. Simply turning around official statements is not, of course, journalism; it's stenography. A healthy skepticism, on the other hand, is not the same as "promoting" conspiracy theories. Mother Jones goes on to call the Examiner a "blog network owned by Republican billionaire Philip Anschutz that has minimal editorial oversight," its founder's political leanings apparently being enough for Mother Jones to dismiss the outfit wholesale. As turned off by conspiracy theories as Mother Jones claims it is, it is attracted to the simplistic idea that corporations (and conservatives!) are bad and therefore everything they do is bad. It's put the traditionally progressive magazine in the awkward position of defending the drug war and the massive federal spending on it because fuck corporations and conservatives. In the same way, it appears Mother Jones is uncomfortable with Kim Dvorak's exercise of her free speech rights and contribution to a free press not because of what she contributes, but because of who she is (a conservative) and who may tend not to believe the Hastings story (people suspicious of government).

The kicker comes from a quote Mother Jones uses from a writer friend of Hastings':

Dvorak is a "fucking disgrace," Matt Farwell, a writer and friend of Hastings who is finishing his Brennan profile for an upcoming issue of Rolling Stone, told WhoWhatWhy. Farwell wants Hastings' death to be investigated, but "unless it's good solid shoe leather journalism…it's not helping anyone," he said. "It makes the LAPD and the feds go into closed-off mode and makes people not want to say anything." (Asked to comment on the Hastings investigation and Dvorak's theories, the LAPD replied with an email saying, "We have no further comment on this matter.")

The idea that the LAPD would be a fountain of transparency on Hastings' death were it not from aggressive questioning by reporters like Dvorak is nearly as ridiculous as any of the conspiracy theories du jour

Read the entire Mother Jones piece here and Reason on Michael Hastings' various reporting and death here.

Our own Jesse Walker also has an excellent book on the role of conspiracy theories and conspiracy theories about conspiracy theories on American political life throughout history, which is out today and you can buy here

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  1. I beat FoE!

    1. Did you? I see his name in the first post, right there. So who really won?

  2. Wait, when did ANYBODY think it was a good idea to trust the LAPD?

    They can’t even tell Asian women apart from Christopher Dorner.

    1. Even when there’s video of 4 cops beating a black guy, always take LAPD’s word for it.

  3. Of course Mother Jones is skeptical of conspiracy theories involving Top Government Men; Top Men would never hide anything from anyone, ever. Unless it was for their own good.

  4. I know I’m old when Mother Jones is solidly pro-establishment.

    Always knew that Meathead would grow up and become Archie.

    1. I see we’re on the same page.

    2. They are who I thought they were. Authoritarians. Always were. They love war on their terms too.

    3. 70 million EBT cards buy a lot of loyalty from the proggies.

    4. Meathead always was Archie, just with different packaging.

      Instead of cracking open filthy hippy skulls, Meathead cracked the skulls of anyone with a paycheck.

      1. Episode where the two are stuck in the backroom, and they talk about their fathers — damn that one made me bawl my eyes out. O’Connor was better than Brando.

  5. I remember when Mother Jones was a radical, anti-establishment publication. Now they just suck the thorny cock of authority.

    1. Yeah, this and their drug war crap are just pathetic.

    2. Don’t worry, they’ll switch back the moment a Republican becomes president again.

  6. I don’t get why it’s not worth at least an independent look-see. I mean, if the news media is simply going to accept the government’s word for, well, anything, what’s the point in covering political or government matters at all? I can get that material without the middleman, thank you very much.

    1. I don’t get why it’s not worth at least an independent look-see.

      Fuck you, that’s why.

      1. I understand the government saying that, but what good is a news source that does so? Why purchase anything from them? I get that true-believers are their market, but even they might start questioning total acceptance of the state’s word.

        1. I understand the government saying that, but what good is a news source that does so?

          They’re trying to keep you safe from the evil [insert opponent of whatever here].

        2. Why do you think their revenues are in the toilet? Nobody buys Pravda.

          1. I guess I’m always surprised to see businesses commit suicide.

            1. It’s not a business, it’s an ideological enterprise.

              1. Huh. Well, I’m not investing in anything like that.

            2. I guess I’m always surprised to see businesses commit suicide.

              As if their Dear Ruler won’t come up with some scam or another to direct some federal dollars their way. You know, for the greater good.

            3. I guess I’m always surprised to see businesses commit suicide.

              Answering your question more honestly, it’s not a bad move for MJ. There’s a huge market out there for people that love to read shit they agree with.

              Think of it as more of a subscriber retention program. Hell, Reason does the same thing, just from a different viewpoint.

              1. What? The climate posts are more than just a 2 minute hate.

        3. I get that true-believers are their market, but even they might start questioning total acceptance of the state’s word.

          This scene from Back to School comes to mind:

          “Well gee whiz Phil, I just asked the man if the test was his! What do you want me to do, torture him?”

    2. I don’t get why it’s not worth at least an independent look-see.

      You’re free to finance it/take up a collection. No one is stopping you.

      Should we have an independent investigation of every automobile-related death that’s ruled an accident?

  7. Did Mother Jones ever have a problem with 911 conspiracies? If there is one service Obama has done for the country, it is to totally end these people ever having any claim to be anything but pro authority and pro government shills.

    1. it is to totally end these people ever having any claim

      Dude… Shriek claims to be anti-war while cheering the bombing of Libya.

      These people will claim anything that is convenient for them at the moment.

      Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

      1. They will claim it. Just no one will believe them anymore. Liberals have always gotten a lot of millage from the general perception they are the ones who are skeptical of authority and it is the Republicans who are the button downed do as you are told types. The last five years is shattering that conception. And it is not going to be rebuilt just because liberals change their minds once they are no longer in charge.

        Being anti-authority is a huge part of the liberal brand. And they are destroying it.

        1. They will claim it. Just no one will believe them anymore.

          I think people have very short memories, so I am not so optimistic. Of course, in a just world, you would be absolutely right; Mother Jones should be given the same derisive treatment that Pravda gets.

          1. It takes a long time to build up a cultural perception. And it doesn’t get destroyed overnight. But the over the top love of Obama and the defending of the NSA and doing or saying anything to defend him is going to harm the perception that liberals are anti-establishment. The reality is that they are anything but that. But Obama has forced them to stop even pretending. And reality does become perception eventually.

            1. I recall in the early 80s Penn Jillette doing a filmed skit for SNL about a Greenwhich Village coffee house folk singer doing tunes like, ‘The Times Are Changing – Back!’ Damned if I can find it on Google/Youtube at the moment though.

              1. Pretty sure you’re thinking of Bob Roberts. Tim Robbins originated the character on SNL on a show in the 80s and one of his songs or albums was The Times They Are A-Changing Back.


            2. And Obama has three more years to continue the brand destruction and really make it sink in.

        2. The liberal “brand” is: projection of their hate. That’s all it is. They may have done a much better job of concealing that before, but the last few years have made it crystal clear.

          1. … and they hate… how they hate…..

            1. Not noble, Aenima style hate, but petty, low, infantile hate.

          2. That’s the biggest surprise of the last decade–how much the left has let the mask drop.

            1. Not really. It was always clamoring to come out, but they had some restraint. But the explosion of power for their TEAM over the last few years made them bold enough to not care any more. Which was really, really stupid, but partisans are mongoloids so it’s not surprising.

              1. It is surprising, because they’d not only hidden it for so long, their leadership had consistently taken steps to appear “moderate.” As recently as the Clinton years. But the shit seemed to really hit the fan when they got control of Congress. I mean, Pelosi?

          3. Exactly. And the thing is that once you base your whole political life on hate, there is no stopping it. They have already given up completely on the white middle class. Eventually, they will move on to hating someone else. I am thinking the youth is probably next. The young don’t vote and they are going to not buy insurance like they are supposed to and thus get blamed for Obamacare. You watch, the progs are going to go on a hate fest against young people over the next few years. Every problem in America is going to be because the lazy younger generation.

            1. I agree that they are going to expand who they hate, John. Because they always have to have wreckers to blame, and if their current objects of hate can’t be blamed for something, well, new objects of hate must be found. But at the core of it, it’s because they have more hate than they know what to do with and are always willing to hate someone new. Because that’s all they are. Hate.

              1. I watched too much Star Trek as a kid. Fuck.

            2. You watch, the progs are going to go on a hate fest against young people over the next few years. Every problem in America is going to be because the lazy younger generation.

              I wish they would. Alienating Gen-Y and driving them toward libertarianism would be a dream come true.

              1. Just like there are plenty of self hating white people who always vote D and plenty of self hating men who support radical feminism, there will still be plenty of self hating youths to mindlessly vote D to show they are not like the rest of their generation.

    2. In 2007 Mother Jones ran a six part series on the anniversary of 911 which while denying outright trutherism, peddled all kinds of conspiracy theories about the government’s behavior after 911…..-and-facts

      Their views on conspiracy theories seem to have evolved around January 2009.

      1. Tell you what, wanna see once and for all how ridiculously two-faced the left is? Just make a sequel to that movie about killing Bush this time featuring Obama. Then sit back and watch them explode into insidious fury.

        1. Didn’t they already run that experiment with a rodeo clown?

    3. The real threat is bigger here than this particular article would lead one to believe; anyone that questions the narrative of Top Men is a crazy kook that must be marginalized. Always trust your Top Men and Dear Ruler, whichever statist fuck happens to hold the position at the time. If Government is doing something secretly, it’s for the Greater Good.

      1. So much for liberals being anti-authority.

        1. Liberals are, progressives, on the other hand….

    4. I seem to remember them flirting with the conspiracy theorists, but ultimately deciding there wasn’t much to them.

      1. See the link above. They never went outright truther. But they never said that reporting or believing them made you a nut either. And they bought into a lot of other conspiracy bullshit about 911, just not trutherism.

        1. I don’t have a problem with any theory being published in any medium; let me judge the veracity for myself.

        2. Yep, I think that fits my description. While they didn’t go full truther, it’s funny how they weren’t running articles about how we should just trust the government’s word without checking back then.

          A quick google search shows that debunking non-liberal conspiracy theories has become a “thing” for them recently.

  8. In other news, Kimberly Dvorak, journalist for CW San Diego and Examiner online correspondent, has been found dead with a gunshot to the back of her neck. Responding paramedics declare death a suicide. LAPD searching for leads.

    1. Sadly, considering the question of the U.S. government killing journalists who ask inconvenient questions, I don’t think it’s a question of ‘if’ but rather ‘when’.

    2. Responding paramedics declare death a suicide.

      Reminds me of a funny article I read the other day about a guy that claimed his wife stabbed herself 47 times after loading up on Oxy.

    3. No, she shot herself multiple times with a bolt-action rifle.

      /remembered tidbit from None Dare Call It Treason.

    4. Congratulations, Dweebston, at getting me to frenetically google up any news on her shooting. “Wha?! No way! (clackety-clack of computer keys).”

      It’s so damned plausible though, isn’t it? So, would Ellsberg have been killed or just imprisoned if he tried his little stunt these days?

  9. I’t amazing how fast progressives turned into state-fellators as soon as they had the right color cock to suck on.

    1. It’s not amazing at all. We’ve been seeing it for years and years now.

      This is nothing new, and I don’t know why people are acting like it is. TEAM BLUE went full authoritarian during Clinton’s tenure. This is old news, all their bleating during Bush’s term notwithstanding. He was just the wrong TEAM.

      1. Look, if you’re going to go around calling incinerating a group of people instead of just arresting one guy when he went to town and using snipers to kill mothers holding their babies “full authoritarian” then… hmm… never mind.

        1. Look, murdering entire compounds of people, including children, and firing on the doors when they try to escape a fire isn’t authoritarians, it’s…it’s…uh…ahhhh…

          1. Well you can’t let burning people out of a house, they might run to other buildings and spread the fire. It’s for the greater good.

      2. Doesnt contradict Hazel’s point, after all Clinton was the first black president.

      3. Actually, back during the Clinton era a lot of people on the left were all disenchanted and were blobbering about the New World Order and how the Democrats were center-right, and COINTELPRO, and did you know AIDS was created by the CIA. And so on.

        I think that the progressive left really has swallowed the kool-aid in terms of the current establishments selling of the line that “government is the only thing we all belong to”. They drank the Obama kool-aid and they were led right by the nose into an ideology of state-worship. The anarchist left of the 1999-2008 era has gone dead, or at least is muted in their dissent. They are all out the parroting Elizabeth Warren and talking about how awesome government is and how we should all serve it.

        It IS different. They really are more authoriatarian today than they were 10, or 15 or 20 years ago. There is a new flavor of obedience to government and servitude to the system that totally wasn’t there before.

      4. It’s not amazing at all.

        See Robespierre. Also how many “anti-authoritarians” are really just anti-Wrong TOP MEN?

    2. I’t amazing how fast progressives turned into state-fellators as soon as they had the right color cock to suck on.

      Well, it’s no surprise that many have a fetish for BBC.

      1. Their need to submit themselves to the will of the majority has all sorts of possibilities.

  10. Why would the LAPD lie about Hastings’ death? What would they have to gain?

    1. DOJ told them to? One call from the US attorney’s office or the local FBI head agent, would easily get them not to look into a death.

      Not saying that happened. But if the feds didn’t want it investigated, it wouldn’t have been investigated.

      1. Pretty sure that was a rhetorical question.

    2. Why would the LAPD lie about Hastings’ death? What would they have to gain?

      I free tank and a crate of assault rifles from Homeland Security with a ribbon on top.

      1. + 1 “Get out of DOJ civil rights violations investigation.” card. To be cashed in the next time LAPD decides to treat LA like a free-fire zone.

  11. Didn’t the Los Angeles Police Department rule out misconduct in Rodney King’s beating?

    1. Dude, I beat you to that half an hour ago.

    2. I seem to recall some sort of kerfuffle afterward.

      1. Reginald Denny probably doesn’t.

        1. Heat of the moment. Can’t be blamed. Sudden flaring of malcontent by a historically oppressed class. Only to be expected.

        2. Denny wasn’t a victim of disadvantaged youths, he was a victim of austerity.

  12. How come Hastings gets an investigation and (some) sympathetic coverage and Breitbart goes right down the memory hole as though he never even existed? Is it because Hastings was one of the “good guys”? Was he that much more of a “serious journalist” than Andrew was?

    1. People thought Breitbart was assassinated too.

    2. And Breitbart died by heart attack… quite unlike a mysterious auto conflagration.

      1. Yeah, a heart attack induced by cyanide poisoning.

        1. I’m not saying it categorically wasn’t, just that Breitbart’s death is less suspicious than Hastings’.

        2. Where was the guy who whacked the Bulger witness at the time?

      2. Maybe the spooks had been watching a lot of Breaking Bad and went with ricin.

        Wait, if I start googling “effects of ricin poisoning” at work, is the NSA gonna flag me?

        1. As if you aren’t flagged already.

        2. Too late to worry about that. You’re already flagged for posting that comment.

        3. You post at Reason. You’re likely already on multiple watch lists. What’s one more?

        4. You just need a few bad internet habits to let them know that you can be blackmailed and are corruptible. The last thing they want to see is someone of a upstanding moral disposition capable of taking them on. It isn’t a fair fight in their eyes. So, spend the rest of the afternoon at 4chan if you are worried about them monitoring you.

    3. What story/stories was Breitbart working on that would lead to such thinking?

    4. Hastings had a lot of friends in the MSM, Breitbart mocked those very same people. It’s really just that more than ideology.

  13. “Dvorak is a “fucking disgrace,” Matt Farwell”

    Matt Farwell is a fucking ignoramus.

    1. I know! You get so much more efficiency than with QWERTY, I don’t know why people are always hating…

      1. Damnit, should’ve refreshed.

        1. Or made the joke about the composer instead.

          1. I came close to doing that, but got distracted along the way.

  14. In unrelated news, MJ declares in an article about how anyone who has a problem with the QWERTY keyboard is a racist mouth-breather.

  15. I think I really like the sound of that wow.

  16. Did anyone read Dvorak’s reporting? It is terrible conspiracy-theory crap. Truther level garbage.

    1. I’m dubious about claims that Hastings was murdered by the government, but I don’t see why a news outlet wouldn’t investigate the matter on its own, if there are reasons to question the government’s interpretation of events.

      1. Leaving aside any discussion at all of whether there was a conspiracy to murder him and just addressing her reporting on the matter, what she is doing there is insulting to the idea of investigative journalism.

        1. [eek. replying to myself.]

          That’s what I think Mother Jones was reacting to, the awfulness of what she was doing, though the MJ piece was poorly written too.

          1. It really shouldn’t be our jobs to wade through these pieces and try to make sense of them. I mean, aren’t these people and their editors paid to communicate? Perhaps we should write to them and ask them to restate their positions.

      2. To be frank, recall the government worker who framed right wing groups for his suicide by hanging? If it turns out that Hastings was a bit unhinged and slammed in to that tree to create a sensational and questionable death, I wont be surprised. The government angle needs to be investigated thoroughly though to keep them in line. They should never be anywhere near above suspicion like Mother Jones treats them.

        1. There’s a point in this that I think is worth noting–a little paranoia by the media when it comes to the government might help restrain a government that otherwise thinks itself above all of that. That may or may not be necessary now, but we’re certainly trending to worse and worse abuses.

      3. if there are reasons to question the government’s interpretation of events.

        There aren’t any particular reasons to do so in this case. Generalized distrust of govt doesn’t count — I seriously doubt anyone has the resources to launch an investigation of every auto accident the govt comments on.

    2. That’s not how it works. Reason doesn’t like cops, so anything said against cops must be true. QED.

      Never mind that this conspiracy theory requires the participation of family members in the conspiracy, etc.

  17. For 999 out of 100 cases of automobile accidents, we take the cops’ word that they were accidents. Only in the 1000th case, when a celebrity is involved, do we invoke conspiracy.

    1. If Evel Knievel’s Snake River Canyon jump ended up like this, we’d still be talking about it.

    2. Come on, why would the government kill some civilian? What’s the point? Only government employees and celebrities matter.

    3. Most celebrities don’t investigate the wrongdoing of the powerful, and for the most part their cars just crash, they don’t mysteriously catch fire, and for the most part, there aren’t suspicious irregularities with the investigation, like a coroner dying or a body being cremated.

      1. …suspicious irregularities with the investigation, like a coroner dying or a body being cremated.

        These things happen all the time. They’re only “suspicious irregularities” when seen through the lens of assuming a conspiracy.

        1. All the time? Seriously? When a case is in the limelight due to politics or celebrity involvement?

          1. Yeah, the coroner being poisoned right after doing the autopsy on the high-profile celebrity death, is a new one on me. Not sure how this “happens all the time.”

            Or Hastings’s car taking off down the street like Christine crossed with the racing car from Cars and exploding like TWA 800. Cars, especially Mercedes, don’t usually explode when they crash.

            More than a few unusual details to both of these reporters’ deaths.

            1. People die. Some happen to be coroners. Corpses are cremated. The limelight is what is unusual, not the coroner dying, not the corpse being cremated. Neither of those (and let’s mind that you are bringing together two completely different people’s deaths now), neither of those circumstances is a “suspicious irregularity.”

  18. Who here is surprised that the hard lefties at Mother J are licking jackboots and marginalizing anyone who questions the Total State?

    1. Anyone who doesn’t buy into conspiracy theories which have zero evidence to support them is a jackboot licker?

  19. Wait, CW affiliates have news?

  20. I am very much agree with your point of view ?I think it’s doors very well this is our game sites recommended to

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