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TODAY   |  June 24, 2010

Writer: I did not think general would be fired

Rolling Stone’s Michael Hastings, the man behind the damaging magazine article on Gen. Stanley McChrystal, tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer that he thought the general’s position was “untouchable.”

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>> your time. i appreciate it.

>>> what does the man who wrote the runaway general for " rolling stone " magazine think about all this? michael hastings is in afghanistan where he has been embedded with the u.s. troops . michael , good morning to you.

>> good morning. thanks for having me.

>> it's good to have you here.

>> so general mcchrystal is out. and he is out because of what he told you in this article you wrote for " rolling stone ." what's your reaction to that?

>> well, i think it's not as important what my reaction is, as important as what the troops and how the troops are reacting to the story and the news that general mcchrystal is out. and from everything i've heard from them, i got an e-mail from a marine just this morning saying, they were pleased with the decision because they did not agree with general mcchrystal's policies here.

>> perhaps it obviously is more important what the troops think, but i want to go back to you for a second. at some point during your reporting process, based on what general mcchrystal and members of his inner circle were telling you, did you have that moment where you said, this could be career changing for the general , and leadership changing for afghanistan ?

>> i did not think general mcchrystal would be fired. in fact, i thought his position was basically untouchable. so, i thought it would give them a headache for maybe 72 hours , some of the material that i was going to publish. but i thought, based on past experience, and that they survived these mia crises before, that would fall into the same book as that.

>> i'm curious, michael , after you parted company with mcchrystal and these other people on his team, did anyone reach out to you from that group and say, hey, michael , you know, we said a lot of things during our time together, take it easy, we were blowing off steam? anything like that?

>> yes. one of the members of general mcchrystal's team and i had a number of long conversations about what was going to be in the story. and they tried to pressure me not to write about some things that were on the record, and i told them i can't really play that game. one of the things that happened in journalism is that, especially with powerful figures, they give journalists access in exchange for favorable coverage and future access. and that dynamic didn't apply to me and the story i was writing or just my general style of journalism.

>> let me ask you, michael , a question i just asked richard engel , do you think as a result of this situation, with your article, and stanley mcchrystal, that the rules of the game , the rules of engagement between the military and reporters like you will be changed?

>> well, i think what this is saying is that it was almost a throwback to the old days, fly on the wall reporting. where nowadays access is almost so controlled, it's always very so controlled. it was very rare to get this kind of access anyway. so i don't -- i don't see any sort of significant change. and i apologize to my colleagues if they're not getting any interview requests with general petraeus over the next couple of days.

>> michael hastings , joining us from afghanistan , writer for " rolling stone " magazine. thank you very much for your time. i appreciate it. be safe.

>> thanks for having me, sir.

>> all right. nine minutes after