Barrett defended Hastings' award winning journalism in his Vanity Fair piece, "Why The Hacks Hate Michael Hastings." He was candid about their friendship—warning the reader:
Barrett also blurbed Hastings' second book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan, calling it, "The most impact-laden story of the year . . . written by a perfect specimen of the new breed of journalist-commentator."
In support of Barrett, Hastings wrote: “Barrett Brown is a journalist, plain and simple. He’s also a colleague and friend, and one of the brilliant, if highly unconventional, American writers of his generation. I offer my support to Barrett and his family, and respectfully ask for his immediate release from custody.” He believed Barrett's work helped contribute to a free press.
Before his untimely death, Hastings was working on a story about Barrett, announcing mysteriously to his followers "Get ready for your mind to be blown." Hastings had been in touch with Barrett's lawyers, and intended to interview him in June for the story. Barrett has been in prison for 281 days pending trial, and faces over a hundred years imprisonment for what Hastings called "trumped up FBI charges regarding his legitimate reportorial inquiry into the political collective known sometimes as Anonymous."
The loss of Michael Hastings is a tremendous blow to adversarial journalism, but the circumstances surrounding his death leave many questions unanswered. Michael believed he was under FBI investigation at the time of his death, and that his calls with Barrett were being recorded.
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