Coverage of BuzzFeed journalist Michael Hastings’ untimely death six weeks ago at the age of 33 was rampant with conspiracy theories, especially after former colleagues produced an email he had sent out days before his death in which he alleged that the FBI was interviewing his “close friends and associates.” But one person who’s not lending much credence to those theories is Hastings’ widow, Elisa Jordan.
In her first public interview since Hastings’s death in a high-speed car wreck in Los Angeles on June 18, Jordan briefly discussed what the polarizing journalist had been working on when he died, and touched on the intense speculation surrounding his death. Speaking to CNN’s Piers Morgan, Jordan said that she was taking the tragedy “day by day.”
“I was blessed to have the time with him that I had,” Jordan said. “So I feel very lucky for that, and [I am] taking it day by day.”
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Jordan also addressed the mystery of the “hot” story Hastings alluded to be working on in the email he sent to colleagues before the crash. Days after his death, Staff Sgt. Joseph Biggs, a friend Hastings had BCC’d on his email, forwarded the message to the Los Angeles television station KTLA 5, where it was published online.
Hastings wrote: “Hey [redacted] the Feds are interviewing my ‘close friends and associates.’ Perhaps if the authorities arrive ‘BuzzFeed GQ,’ er HQ, may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues. Also: I'm onto a big story, and need to go off the rada[r] for a bit. All the best, and hope to see you all soon.”
Almost immediately following the email’s publication, the “hot” story Hastings alluded to became a subject of contention on Internet message boards, with various commentators surmising that he had been in the middle of a piece about the CIA or about Tampa socialite Jill Kelley. Kelley was a former pal of Gen. David Petraeus and exposed his affair with Paula Broadwell when Broadwell harassed her. Jordan fervently denied the latter on Twitter, writing on June 25, “To correct the record, since I've seen it erroneously reported a few times: @mmhastings was not working on a story about Jill Kelley.”
In her CNN interview, Jordan said Hastings was in fact working on not one, but five “hot” stories. However, she dodged the topic of conspiracy theories by saying that she believed his death was an accident.
“I have no doubt that he was pursuing a hot story. He always had at least five hot stories going. That was Michael,” Jordan said. “Right now the LAPD still has an active investigation …[But] my gut here is that it was just a really tragic accident and I’m very unlucky, and the world was very unlucky.”
Jordan also confirmed that Hastings had been working on an in-depth story about CIA Director John Brennan, which is to be published in an upcoming issue of Rolling Stone.