The reporter whose 2010 story led to the downfall of Gen. Stanley McChrystal had "vague discussions" about writing a story on Tampa's Jill Kelley before he died, the managing editor of Rolling Stone magazine says. Michael Hastings, who died in a car crash early Tuesday morning in Los Angeles, had discussed doing a story about Kelley as one of several ideas in a meeting at the magazine's office in "March or April," says Will Dana. Dana, who was working on another piece with Hastings, said it was routine for the reporter to "spitball," or discuss potential story ideas. One of those ideas centered on Kelley, whose friendship with powerful generals came to light last year after being threatened by Paula Broadwell, who was having an affair with David Petraeus. Petraeus, who was CIA director at the time, saw his life changed by Hastings' 2010 story about McChrystal, called "The Runaway General." After McChrystal resigned his position as U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Petraeus, commander of Tampa-headquartered U.S. Central Command, was named to take his place.
Dana said that there was "nothing on the books" about a Kelley story, meaning no story was scheduled. And, if Hastings "had a conversation about the Jill Kelley story he was really excited about and thought he had something, he would have been on the phone in five minutes. "There was no assignment, there was no real in-depth discussion and as far as I know, on Michael's part, there hadn't been any significant reporting. This never got beyond the most preliminary spit-balling stage," says Dana. Earlier this month, Kelley and her husband Scott Kelley sued the FBI and the Pentagon, claiming they were subjected to shame and ridicule because Kelley's name was illegally leaked after Petraeus' affair with Broadwell, his biographer, came to light. Kelley declined to talk on the record about Hastings, but the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday afternoon that Hastings was researching a story about the lawsuit and scheduled a meeting for next week to talk to one of Kelley's representatives. [email protected] (813) 259-7629 @haltman