Meet the Journalist Spreading Michael Hastings Conspiracy Theories

Mother Jones

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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 theories, which suggest Hastings was assassinated shortly after sending friends a frantic email, have received attention beyond the usual fringe suspects partly because of ongoing reporting by freelance blogger Kimberly Dvorak for the CW Television Network affiliate San Diego 6.

Dvorak, whom the station touts as an “investigative journalist,” is a “National Homeland Security Correspondent” for, a blog network owned by Republican billionaire Philip Anschutz that has minimal editorial oversight. Since Hastings’ death, San Diego 6 has repeatedly given Dvorak airtime to float conspiracy theories—that the crash was not consistent with a car accident, that Hastings was cremated to cover-up foul play, that federal officials may have ordered him killed. None of these theories, which often come from unnamed sources, are backed up by convincing evidence, but reputable media outlets keep falling for Dvorak’s reporting anyway.

Last month, for example, the Independent, a major British newspaper, picked up Dvorak’s report claiming that Hastings’ body “was cremated and it wasn’t the request of the family…in fact, the family wanted Michael’s body to go home.” But on Tuesday, veteran journalist Russ Baker dispelled the myth on his news site WhoWhatWhy by talking to a family member who confirmed that the cremation was done at the family’s request. Dvorak later removed the passage saying Hastings’ family wanted his body to “go home,” but her story still hints at a cover-up, calling the cremation a “macabre twist.”

Dvorak’s other theories are just as questionable. She claimed on air that the engine of Hastings’ Mercedes C250 coupe had been found behind the crash site, which would have been impossible with the forward velocity of an ordinary accident. The engine was found in front of the crash site. Her suggestion that a grainy video of the crash showed evidence of a “pre-explosion” sabotage has been dismissed by car experts. She has also reported that the intensity of the resulting fire might suggest the use of thermite accelerants—a popular theory among 9/11 truthers who believe thermite was used to melt the World Trade Center towers’ steel columns. She’s written credulously about the theory that President Barack Obama may not have been born in the United States. And Dvorak has repeated speculation by Richard Clarke, the former Bush and Clinton-era counterterrorism czar, that Hastings’ car’s computer system may have been remotely hacked—something that’s technically possible but highly unlikely.

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Meet the Journalist Spreading Michael Hastings Conspiracy Theories

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