Michael Hastings died in a car crash in Los Angeles early this morning. He was 33.

If you don't know, Michael Hastings is the journalist who, two years ago, took down Afghanistan war commander and Army General Stanley McChrystal with a single piece in Rolling Stone magazine. He did this by reporting what the general and the jocks on his staff actually said—everything that was not strictly off-record—about the war and about Barack Obama while embedded with them.

Hastings was then attacked by flocks of so-called reporters, including CBS's Lara Logan and others, for breaking tradition and not censoring the impolitic, embarrassing, off-the-cuff remarks that McChrystal made that revealed how he and many in the military establishment actually think. Within days, Obama dismissed McChrystal.

Hastings followed that up with The Operators, a superb book on the war in Afghanistan. He always tried to debunk the myth of another military-media superstar, General David Petraeus—long before Petraeus' affair, rather than his fuck-ups in Iraq, led to his public disgrace. If you read Hastings's writing, you see that he was one of the journalists who bonded with the grunts on the ground, not the generals turned politicians standing behind podiums.

Here he is in his last appearance on MSNBC, still kicking ass and taking names:

"Hastings' hallmark as reporter was his refusal to cozy up to power," Rolling Stone says. We need more reporters like him, not less, which is why this feels very hard to bear.