From journalist Amber Lyon’s facebook page:
I have a lot of respect for Amber Lyon. Well, let me add a caveat to that – I have a lot of respect for her bravery. But not so much her journalistic integrity.
Some background on Lyon: She was famously ‘let go‘ from CNN after CNN International refused to air her full report of atrocities going during the Arab Spring in Bahrain. Lyon subsequently took to the airwaves to denounce her former employer for essentially bowing to pressure from the Bahraini dictatorship, and made a name for herself for standing up to corporate power in the news world. The story isn’t completely one sided, but it is clear that Lyon is genuinely fearless and literally put her life on the line to expose what was going on in Bahrain.
However, Lyon has been lending herself to some rather outlandish theories in recent times and is fast turning herself into a bit of a conspiracy nut. Lyon has not helped her reputation by appearing on Alex Jones’s show to discuss her experience at CNN, and now she is peddling the new internet conspiracy that Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings was killed by the federal government because of a story he was working on.
Hastings apparently wrote to his friends that the “Feds” were interviewing his close friends and associates, and he felt he needed to “go off the radat (sic) for a bit.” And according to Lyon, because the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has the ability to hack cars, and someone said it was possible that Hastings’ car was hacked, means it is now a ‘probability’ that the Federal Government was behind his death.
This is a typical example of ‘confirmation bias’ – the act of only taking evidence that confirms what you already believe to be true. It is of course possible that the US government was behind Hastings death, and it’s not something that should be discounted when trying to figure out what happened to him. But you need to have evidence to support a theory, and so far, using the fact that Hastings was worried about his story piquing the interests of the authorities, and the fact that DARPA has technology that allows them to control someone’s car doesn’t exactly cut it.
Consider the following:
1. Local police and eye witnesses have stated that they have seen no evidence whatsoever of foul play. Perhaps they are aiding the FBI in a giant cover up, but thus far, there’s absolutely no evidence to support it.
2. If the government was planning to kill Hastings, why on earth would they interview all his close friends and associates days before offing him? If I was planning on killing someone, I wouldn’t call up all their close friends to interrogate them first.
3. If the government was able to hack into his car’s control system, it’s highly likely they were reading his emails too. Given Hastings was concerned about being on their radar and was sending emails about it to his boss at BuzzFeed, unless the FBI are completely idiotic, they would have waited until his suspicions subsided.
4. The toxicology report hasn’t been released yet, so why jump in with theories without all the evidence? If it turns out Hastings was seriously over the limit (not out of the question given he was driving at 4.20am at high speed), government car hacking plots won’t look all that convincing.
5. The FBI released a statement saying categorically that Hastings was not under investigation for anything. Of course they could be lying, but again, no 0ne has come forward with any evidence of a conspiracy.
6. The US government doesn’t generally target privileged white people, particularly well connected journalists who write for major publications. Why? Because they have money and access to good legal representation. Historically, the Federal government has used violence against those unable to protect themselves, ie. blacks and poor people (COINTELPRO being a perfect example of this). Julian Assange, a man responsible for leaking all sorts of sensitive classified government documents is still alive and kicking. If the government can kill people via remote control car, they can certainly get rid of Julian Assange.
7. There are an average of 43,000 fatal car crashes a year in America. Accidents do happen.
Again, this isn’t to say Hastings categorically wasn’t assassinated by the FBI – it’s just that there is no hard evidence to suggest he was. 9/11 conspiracy theorists speculated that the government used voice morphing technology to fake calls from passengers on Flight 93 – a great idea that got lots of people riled up, but didn’t prove anything given no one could provide a single shred of evidence that it had happened. It is also possible that Michael Hastings was killed due to the North Korean government planting a bomb in his cell phone, or cyanide put in his coffee by a Russian spy. The beauty of being a conspiracy theorist is you don’t have to prove anything – you just have to make a lot of noise to get everyone to listen to you.
Like most members of the annoying civil libertarian left, Lyon has made up her mind already and refuses to accept evidence that counters her belief. It is deeply irresponsible and massively offensive of her to promote her pet theories when all the evidence thus far points to a tragic accident. Worst of all, it threatens to blacken Hastings’ name by lumping him in with people like Lyon who don’t regard facts as being important when it comes to their reporting. Hastings would never have gone along with any of this, and that’s because he took his job seriously and reported facts without injecting personal speculation.
It is a shame that Lyon has decided to associate herself with a political faction that has become increasingly detached from reality, and her reporting is suffering because of it. And when you cite infowars.com as a source of legitimate information, you really don’t deserve to be taken seriously any more:
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.