Cheri Speak

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Fulfilling Promises to a Ghost

Life has an odd way of coming back; sometimes it comes around full-circle, nice and smooth, other times, it zig zags away only to ricochet back like a slap in the face.

There are also times that causes one to pause in awe and irony and accept there is no perfect explanation and the experience can be intense.

Because I often write news or other current events, I sometimes find myself involved in my story more than I expected or set-out to be. This was the case with a story I covered earlier this year.

Award-winning Journalist, Michael Hastings


Image Source: Reader Donated

When journalist Michael Hastings was killed I began to follow the story closely because I had always been a “fan” of his writing. As the questions surrounding his “accident” piled-up, I began researching and writing my own pieces on the subject of his [thus far unsatisfactorily explained] death.


January 28, 1980 – June 18, 2013

An extraordinary journalist — one who was unafraid to speak Truth to Power, Michael Hastings — former Newsweek reporter, was a contributing editor to Rolling Stone Magazine, a reporter for  Buzzfeed,  author of books and so much more.

He was most widely known for his 2010 Rolling Stone piece, The Runaway General“,an expose on General Stanley McChrystal – the former commander of NATO‘s International Security Assistance Force in the Afghan war.

He was an outstanding reporter, whatever the story.

He was also a vociferous voice against all that is wrong; labeled a “Muckraker” by some and respected by many. It isn’t a stretch to acknowledge Hastings picked-up a few enemies along the way.

Prominent in each of the three pieces I had written, was one SSG Joe “Rambo” Biggs, Hastings’ friend from his embed days covering the war.

SSG Joe “Rambo” Biggs


Image Source: Joe Biggs

Initially I wasn’t sure what to think of SSG Biggs, I mean, the whole story about the email paired with the explosion of Michael’s car was quite extraordinary to say the least and Biggs wasn’t anyone any of us were familiar with.

From my perspective, some of the things he was doing played into the hands of those who were labeling him a fake, or worse, a “plant”.

He was also muddying the waters with his growing involvement with questionable media sources — or so it seemed.

After writing my second piece in the Hastings trilogy, Biggs contacted me in order to clear up a few things, namely the growing controversy over reports by talk show host Alex Jones and Examiner reporter — and San Diego 6 guest, Kimberly Dvorak; both of which I had soundly called out in my coverage of their coverage.

Biggs confirmed that I was correct saying much had been misreported and falsely credited to him by these two so-called, “journalists”.

I had spent many hours over the course of many days reading news stories and watching video footage while writing these pieces and I grew to feel familiar with Biggs from his interviews. The pain he was feeling over the loss of his friend was tangible. I really felt for him.  I wanted him to know that other people wanted answers too, or at least some better answers than we have all been given.

I also let him know, that he needed to be careful who he was climbing into bed with in his search for truth and media attention.

Making Friends 

There is no consoling someone when their loss is unexpected and so steeped in anomalies and oddities as Hastings’ death was. No one could really blame Biggs for reaching out wherever he could. He just wanted people to remember his friend and to not accept “answers” that didn’t add up.

As the weeks and months passed, Biggs and I became friends and although we have never met face to face, I feel the friendship is genuine.  When he recently decided to take his own writing more seriously, I felt honored that he came to me for help in creating a blog and, as I was knee-deep in building “You Can’t Handle the Truth“, I realized I was fulfilling a promise I made to Michael Hastings because I had vowed to do whatever I could to steer Biggs in the right direction…

I guess I have done just that.

I had never met Michael, but his impact on my own approach to writing has been profound and his death impacted me just as greatly. I feel — in some small way, I am repaying him for all that he had done for us and I was doing it by way of my friendship with Biggs, whom I wouldn’t have met had Michael not been killed…

Thank you Michael, for continuing to touch my life.

Thank you Joe for allowing me to be a part of your journey.

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16 comments on “Fulfilling Promises to a Ghost

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  5. Di
    November 5, 2013

    Great to see you writing about this. I have quietly followed the story, bought his book, and pick up anything new that seems credible. Good luck with it all.


    • Cheri
      November 5, 2013

      Thank you very much. Like other things “conspiracy” in nature, we may never know the absolute truth, what we do know and cannot deny is the governments utter disregard for a journalists rights.


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  7. Guy Montag
    November 5, 2013

    I’ll have to check out Joe Bigg’s new blog. Back in August, I enjoyed speaking with with him for about an hour on a call-in radio show.

    I’m still working on finishing my tribute to Michael Hastings, “What Burns Faster, Memories or Flames?” — The Media Character Assassination of Michael Hastings
    & His Fiery Car Crash (Tragic Accident or Assassination?), at the Feral Firefighter blog. It’s mostly done, but I still need to finish up the chapter, “A Michael Hastings Non-Conspiracy Theory” (title lifted from your previous blog post), go over my Appendices, and write an executive summary. It’s now up to 176 pages (arggh!)

    Last month, LA crime reporter Michael Krikorian ( published an update on the MH case. He gave his opinion and mentioned the LAPD detective is holding off on releasing her final report and said “No one is going to have access to that anyway.” Hmm.

    (Shameless plug: Krikorian’s first novel, “Southside”, was just released today).

    It looks like the evidence has tipped toward a “non-conspiracy” theory. Take a look at the lengthy interview with Michael Hasting’s older brother at the post, “Reckless and Inspired: An Interview With Jonathan Hastings About His Brother, the Journalist Michael Hastings”, at the blog Uncouth Reflections.

    Love your title, “Fulfilling Promises to a Ghost.” I’ll find a place to use it (like I did your picture of MH above). That’s exactly what I’ve been doing for Pat Tillman the past 8 years (and Micheal Hastings the past 5 months).

    BTW, Pat Tillman’s birthday would have been tomorrow on November 6th. His brother Kevin’s 2006 essay, “After Pat’s Birthday”, is (unfortunately) still all too timely today and worth a read (or re-reading).


  8. rarasaur
    November 6, 2013

    Fascinating! 🙂


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  11. Guy Montag
    November 11, 2013

    A “New York Magazine” profile on Michael Hastings just came out this morning with some new tidbits of info.


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