July 22nd, 2013
Preventing Your Untimely Death: a Primer

On June 18th, Michael Hastings, an investigative journalist best known for an explosive expose that lead to the resignation of General Stanley McCrystal in 2010, died in a single-vehicle crash in Los Angeles’ Hancock Park. His 2013 Mercedes Benz appeared to be going full speed before veering off of the road, hitting a palm tree and exploding into flames. Since the accident, several suspicious details have surfaced, including a lack of skid marks on the road, the fact that he was going full speed down a city street, the LAPD’s unwillingness to release the car for investigation, and the cremation of his remains against his family’s wishes. Taking these details and others into consideration, some have suggested the possibility of murder via a cyber car-jacking, a conspiracy theory that has been circulating around the internet since Hastings’ death. These suspicions are further supported by Richard Clarke, a former chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council, who claimed that the details surrounding Hastings’ death are “consistent with [a] car cyber-attack.”  In response, several concerned journalists formed the American Journalists for Self-Preservation, meant to educate American journalists on how to stay safe in a potentially hostile political environment. Below is one of the group’s first reports published, “Preventing Your Untimely Death: a Primer.”


The untimely death of Michael Hastings has rocked the journalist community, causing many to ask, “What if it had been me?” Well first of all, we just want to emphasize that Hastings died as the result of his own poor driving skills. Again, the crash was almost certainly and completely his fault. Witnesses estimated that his car was traveling over 100 mph and he veered into a tree without even braking. Who does that? Michael Hastings, that’s who. That’s absolutely who. No one else could possibly be held responsible. To prevent you from making his same mistakes, we’ve prepared this simple how to guide to keep you alive as you go about your daily life.

  • Travel Safely. We know those flashy Mercedes with OnStar look pretty and have great pick-up but do you know what’s also pretty? An ’88 standard Toyota Corolla complete without an on board computer, GPS location monitoring, or even cruise control. There is absolutely no way to cyber-attack an ’88 Corolla, because it’s pretty much pre-cyber age. Which is important, not because we’re worried about the FBI cyber car-jacking you, because, we just want to reiterate for all those FBI agents reading this guide, we do not think that the FBI was in any way involved in the death of Hastings. But you know, an ’88 Corolla’s great because without any cruise control you’ll be less tempted to go obscene speeds down city streets, of your own free will because the FBI does NOT attack journalists.
  • Stay away from drugs and alcohol. Let’s be honest. Drugs and alcohol lead to a lot of untimely deaths. Just look at Cory Monteith. And even if you get over them, as Hastings did, and stay sober for a decade or more, they do tend to discount any conspiracy theories involving your potential murder via car crash. Not that anyone’s been murdered via car crash, lately. We are not saying that at all.
  • As a journalist, don’t stir the pot too much. Listen, we all know the pot has weapons and advanced technology that can come after you. The pot also has control over the investigation of your death and can get you cremated against your family’s wishes. Not that the pot would do that. But, anyway, why look too deeply to find a story? That’s not what the American population wants to know! They want to know if there’s a chance that Barack Obama wasn’t born in America. They want to know if Mitt Romney was a terrible, bullying teenager. They want to know if Chris Christie lost a ton of weight to prepare for a presidential run, instead of for the silly reason that he has a wife and children who he would like to stay alive for. These are the stories that need to be investigated, not that whole NSA debacle. Actually, Edward Snowden’s creepy girlfriend is a pretty good angle, if you did want to cover spying in America.
  • Don’t rock the boat. Just another reminder. The boat has weapons. Not that they would use them. But if they did, you would be dead and no one would know why or how. So, just remember, the following: The Democratic Party is the liberal, anti-war party. They would never spy on you! And the Republicans, they’re too busy spouting off silly Bible verse and sexist sayings to come after you. So just focus on that. Be sure to never, ever allude to a “war on journalists,” or encourage the media to fight back against government censorship. Also, be sure to divulge all sources at the first sign of a police investigation. You don’t want to go to jail, do you? Jail is a great place for your completely accidental, untimely death! And remember, if you’re getting death threats as a journalist, you’re doing something wrong!
  • If you’re worried, maybe it’s best to just get out of the country for a bit. Get away. Take a trip. Cover a war zone. Interview a dictator. You know, go to a safe place until the hype dies down.

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