Employment attorney John Phillips weighs in on whether General McChrystal was insubordinate.
Rather than get into the issue of insubordination, which can be a swamp, I believe that the General demonstrated very bad judgment in having a Rolling Stone reporter within 50 miles of his inner circle and that the juvenile remarks of his staff should have been nipped in the bud. Those officers helped to sink their commander. If McChrystal had been essential to the war effort - such as another Grant - then the President might have considered taking him to the woodshed but another element has been added to the equation since the days when McClellan and Hooker caused Lincoln so much woe: instant worldwide publicity.
It is much more difficult for a commander-in-chief to tolerate such behavior in a wired world without looking weak. Mix in the fact that a highly capable replacement was available and McChrystal was heading toward the door.