In my clogged email box there is this from a co-worker of Calvan’s. He has a legit SacBee email address, so I assume he’s for real. It kind of shows how reporters miss the entire point. The guy defends Calvan for being pushy because “sometimes thats how we get the story”. Maybe. In the interest of fairness I’m posting the guy’s email. Someone with his name does work for the Sacramento Bee, whether or not this is he I can’t say for sure.
But in the post Calvan is arrogant, demeaning, condescending and just generally asinine. I think he could have gotten through the check-point just as easy being reasonable and professional. But you can glean your own lessons from this letter, which I believe is authentic:
Just wanted to say a few things in defense of my friend and co-worker Bobby Calvan. I was wondering where his blog went…thanks to your blog, now I know :).
The entry he wrote doesn’t surprise me. He can be a very pushy person; many good reporters are prone to be. I think many experienced reporters such as him have come across times when authorities, whether they be from the local school board, the state government, or the military, stonewall when they find themselves in an uncomfortable position, even if official rules dictate otherwise. So the reporters learn to push until something gives. According to Bobby’s account, something *did* give when he pushed; they let him in, despite saying they couldn’t because he lacked the required number of IDs.
Nowhere in the blog posting did I see where he said something to the effect of, “Don’t you know who I am?” He berated them over not knowing one of the major journalistic outlets in Iraq. I completely agree that the average person in America or Iraq hasn’t heard of McClatchy or Knight-Ridder…but the supervisors at checkpoints MAY be familiar with it. Apparently they were, because again, they let him in when the soldier radioed the chain’s name to his superiors. Was being pushy too high a price to pay from getting locked out? I can’t honestly say since I wasn’t in his position.
Could being polite have gotten the same result? Possibly. I don’t know what the soldier’s actual disposition was compared to what Bobby interpreted it to be. I also appreciate the fact that soldiers have little room for error in such a situation.. But I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that Bobby was acting like a spoiled tycoon’s teenage son being blocked from a party in the Hamptons. He went into the Iraq situation knowing that massive restrictions would be put on him as a reporter. He is the type of person who values his safety, but I believe puts doing his job properly even above that, and the restrictive rules of operation in Iraq for reporters threaten to hamper that. Perhaps this contributed to him reportedly having a chip on his shoulder when dealing with officials.
But I think we can all agree that from both sides, reporters receive criticism for not doing the same kind of footwork that they could do in their stateside jobs. From one side’s perspective, they are guilty of locking themselves in their hotel rooms to parrot what US officials say in secure press conferences. From the other perspective, they are guilty of locking themselves in their hotel rooms, believing that the Iraq is in chaos and flames if when it is not.
Bobby stated many times before his Iraq stint that he worried that the majority of his reporting may involve summarizing from press conferences and stringers who he hasn’t had previous experience with, and insisted that he would push to go out, whether it be as an embed or by some other means . Given the importance of reporting the truth of ground conditions, I would rather Bobby go to Iraq with a pushy disposition, rather than be content with reporting from a hotel.
I don’t mean this email to be a critical rant towards you. You could’ve been more nuanced in your interpretation, but I’m saying that as a personal friend of Bobby’s. Other than that, I believe you are in the right. Bobby shouldn’t have taken his blog down or edited his post without explanation. That was unfair to readers and besides, as you said, he could’ve done much better for them and himself by responding to their criticisms and shedding more light on the situation. I greatly appreciate your polite and wise advice to him on how to handle it; Bobby is an experienced reporter, but is not an equally experienced blogger yet. I say this only because I had to help set his blog up for him.
Anyway, thank you for reading this. I hope Bobby puts his blog back up as it was and continues blogging. Not only was it well written and insightful to the situation in Iraq, but his other posts give more context to his situation than I can.
Unlike the left, I think the right is a lot more fair with people. I’ve read a lot of people not excusing Scott Thomas Beauchamp, but understanding and emphasizing that he’s human, he messed up, etc. An apology would be nice.
Well, Bobby Calvan DID apologize, on his blog, and to me in email, before he took it down. Having read more of his writing I don’t like his biased slant, but as a human being I don’t wish him ill. The first post I did was obviously parody, I don’t think he’s the “Worst Person in the World”, unlike maniacs like Olbermann, who really do seem to think people with which they disagree are demonic and evil.
So, I’ll take this guy’s word for it that Calvan is a hard-working guy who maybe fucked up this one time. But, I think Calvan should face the music, explain himself, and from now on we all know a little bit more about the guy behind the reporting he does. Stuff like this is informative, and its good when it gets out. Thanks to Dan Riehl for staying on this.
UPDATE: Calvan’s original site is back up, and he used one of the blogs who copied his post to recreate it. Credit where its due. He’s facing the music.
Wow, this entire thing has snowballed into a big one-day wonder of a blogolanche. I’m linked from all the big blogs and last time I looked have 28k hits today (usually I get 200+, once I got 1.6k from a link from IMAO)
Thanks to Ace of Spades HQ who were the first big blog to link me on this and started ball rolling. Fun to be part of a one-day wonder!
This blog usually gets 200+ hits a day, its kind of fun.
Little Green Footballs, Riehl World View, Don Surber, NewsBusters.org, At-Largely, Ace of Spades HQ, Death, On Deadline, The Jawa Report, Patterico’s Pontifications, Althouse, michellemalkin.com, McClatchy Watch, The GALLIVANT, BLACKFIVE, Instapundit.com, Blue Crab Boulevard, Take Our Country Back, Say Anything, Sister Toldjah and FreeSpeech.com
and it looks like this story may have legs, if malfeasance of fraud involved in some of Calvan’s reporting pans out. Do I feel bad being one of the catalysts of this story? No. This guy is a reporter, and he makes his living “telling it how it is”. I’ve now read some of his stuff and there is a really annoying leftist bias and slant to almost every story. He apparently performs his job with an agenda, and that is to push anti-war propaganda.
This kind of arrogance and behavior, while writing cooked stories to further an agenda, needs to be outed.