Patterico's Pontifications


“With Nothing to Lose I Decided to Get Pushy.”

Filed under: Media Bias,Morons — DRJ @ 7:48 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Bobby Calvan is apparently a reporter for the Sacramento Bee, a McClatchy paper formerly owned affiliated with Knight-Ridder [See comment 13]. He’s currently reporting from Baghdad and also has a blog. The blog has been taken down so I can’t link it, but you can find a copy via this Instapundit link or here at docweasel’s.

Calvan’s October 23, 2007, blog entry entitled Simply Simpatico made a splash on yesterday’s internet. Specifically, Calvan recounts his smack-down of an American soldier at a Green Zone checkpoint who had asked for 2 forms of ID and who did not recognize the Knight-Ridder ID:

“We parked the car, and I headed out of the Green Zone (along with one member of my security staff) to attend the news conference. Getting out is seldom ever a problem. When the news conference was over, we headed back. That’s when trouble started.

At the first check point, a pair of Ugandan soldiers asked for identification. We showed our military-issued badges. Unbeknownst to us, we were supposed to be carrying an additional form of ID. He asked for a passport. I told him I didn’t have it on me. (The advice is to lock up your passport once in Baghdad and never take it out until departing.) He asked for another form of ID, and I replied that I didn’t have anything else.

The American soldier assigned by the U.S. military to oversee this particular checkpoint came over to investigate the problem. He asked if I had a driver’s license on me. I told him I didn’t have one. He looked incredulous. Why would I need a driver’s license in Baghdad; I wouldn’t be driving, I told him. He took offense at my response.

Then he looked at the second ID of my companion. It was a badge issued by our newspaper. He said it wouldn’t do. Besides, he asked, what is Knight Ridder? “I never heard of it,” he said. He probably would have never heard of McClatchy, either. (We use Knight Ridder because it already had a bureau in Baghdad before the chain was bought by the McClatchy Co.)

I explained that it’s one of the largest newspaper companies in the United States. It owns the Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee, the Kansas City Star.

“I know the Miami Herald, he said. I used to live there. But I never heard of Knight Ridder.” He began to chuckle, pronouncing the company as Knight Rider. Perhaps his chuckles stemmed from memories of the 1980s television show “Night Rider.” He then seemed to mock us.”

But Calvan had a plan:

“He [the American soldier] didn’t want to be embarrassed. He already looked irritated. He asked me if I knew the number of the military’s media office.

“I would if you’d let me switch on my phone,” I snapped. “What’s the use of these media badges if people like you aren’t going to honor them? Is this for nothing? Why don’t you call? That’s your job, isn’t it?” I made it known that I was jotting down his name.

My security man was struggling with a smirk on his face. He knew my plan. I was going to bully my way back into the Green Zone.

The man with the gun glowered as I continued my barrage of protests. The Ugandan soldiers were oblivious to the commotion, despite the growing line behind me. The American soldier called another soldier on his radio to ask if he had ever heard of “Knight Ridder.”

To my relief, the voice said that, yes, Knight Ridder is one of the country’s biggest newspaper companies, that it owned many of the country’s largest newspapers. The soldier in front of us explained the situation to his colleague. The voice on the other side suggested that we be let through, that the media office would only instruct him to simply confirm if the pictures on our media badges matched the ones on our shoulders.

When you’ve got nothing to lose, I told my security officer, you do what it takes. He nodded in agreement.”

Part of the blog post’s appeal is the arrogance of its author but the post is also becoming famous for its comments, which are uniformly critical of Calvan. Click (more) for a sample.

A representative and restrained comment from Don Surber:

“Don Surber said:
October 24th, 2007 at 6:09 pm

I’ve been in the newspaper business 25+ years. I am sorry, but you come off reading like some jerk. Sometimes people get the treatment they deserve. The soldier has a far more dangerous job than you. Did it not occur to you that he’s a bigger target — and that he protects you?”

There’s also this one:

“John Reeves said:
October 24th, 2007 at 6:19 pm

And you wonder why people don’t like journalists? Maybe you should have tried being a decent human being.

Maybe, just maybe, you and your little company aren’t as important as you think you are.”

Another commenter had a positive outlook:

“Exurban Jon said:
October 24th, 2007 at 8:04 pm

Look at the bright side, kid. Every guard in the U.S. Military will know EXACTLY who you are from here on out.

Have fun with that.”

And there was this one, too:

“Glad I’m Not You said:
October 24th, 2007 at 8:24 pm


I’m so glad I’m 42.

When I was young and immature, like you, and I made an ass out of myself it was usually in a room with a Fire Marshal-rated capacity of under 100 people. Even if the place was full and each person told two friends what I did, I was still under the 300 mark of people I needed to avoid for a week. And since memories are short and someone else was bound to make an ass out of themselves in a relatively short amount of time it never really mattered that much. But you, Bobby, have the distinction of making an ass of yourself on the World Wide Web, which is currently accessable by just over 1.2 billion human beings. On top of that, your friends – and apparently rather plentiful enemies – can now copy-cut-paste your idiocy and keep it forever. And ever. And ever.

Bobby, in the year 2065, when you are 80 or so, you will receive an email with this blog post in it. All of it. Each. And. Every. Word.

I’m so glad I’m 42. And not you.

Best of luck with that reporter thing.”

This one was heavy on sarcasm:

“Drew Cloutier said:
October 24th, 2007 at 8:40 pm

Dude, I can’t believe how all of these commenters like don’t get it. I’m with you. You were being hassled by The Man and you were like so cool. I hate it when I like go to an airport and those TSA yahoos are all like, “Take your computer out of your bag” and “Take of your shoes off” and sh*t like that. Like, whatz their problem. Its not like I’m Richard effing Reid. Next time that happens to me, I’m like going to go all Bobby Calvan on their asses. I’ll pretend like I’m taking down their names (they’ll sh*t their pants at that just like I bet that solider did). I’ll make a press Knight Ridder pass up on my computer (dude, I wish I had a real one like you) and yell “What the hell good is this if I have to be treated like an effing terrorist.” I’ll tell them that I work for a big corporation where we all drive talking cars and they are just peons who probably didn’t graduate from high school. Man, you’re my hero. All these damn Chimpy McHitlerburton clones pretending like they are protecting us when all they are doing is oppressing us. Ignore all of these commenters and just keeping on being you.”

Finally, there was one bright spot for the journalist noted in comment 56:

“Susan said:
October 24th, 2007 at 7:39 pm

Wow. Congratulations. I don’t think I’ve ever read a blog comment section where so many people were in such complete agreement. It must be a new internet record.”

Simply Simpatico.

Update 11/11/2007: The Sacramento Bee’s Public Editor responds here.


59 Responses to ““With Nothing to Lose I Decided to Get Pushy.””

  1. G-D. How I love this story. Arrogant, immature, imbecilic, moronic…have I covered all the proper adjectives? Nah….dork fits best!

    Sue (c28ac2)

  2. I LOVE those comments.

    I want to buy each one of them a drink…

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  3. LOL classic!

    Voice of Reason (10af7e)

  4. DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    daleyrocks (906622)

  5. The comments really made the story here: if you’ve ever stood an entry point post, you’ve had to deal with a jackass at one time or another.

    Oddly, Calvan’s narrative reveals a rather patient sentry in spite of his attempt to portray the sentry as an officious lout.

    Oh, and I also happened to save the page to steal borrow some of the better lines from the comments. I didn’t take the trouble to correct the formatting like Doc Weasel did, but I’m not being Instalanched, either! 😉

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  6. I spotted you there in that comment section, DRJ! I’m not technically advanced enough to figure out how to post this picture of Roland Burton Hedley III, but maybe your are…

    driver (faae10)

  7. That post should be preserved in the Media Pompous Jerk Hall of Fame…as a charter member.

    Complete with the hilarious hammering comments.

    Paul (146bba)

  8. Is there any doubt why the media is so intensely disliked? This clown should have been strip searched, and they should have checked his anal cavity, closely.

    JD (e88f7b)

  9. The comments are hilarious. Talk about throwing softballs!! Bobby, you asked for this.

    Patricia (f56a97)

  10. The cache for Calvan’s complete blog is available here

    Bobby C. Calvan, Supergenius

    DubiousD (1e6070)

  11. Ridiculing people trying to do their job … and succeeding only in ridiculing themselves. What could better summarize the modern journalist?

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  12. Correction, only the first entries are here. My bad.

    DubiousD (1e6070)

  13. “…. a reporter for the Sacramento Bee, a McClatchy paper formerly owned by Knight-Ridder.”

    The Sacramento Bee is the original McClatchy paper founded James McClatchy and first published on Feb. 3, 1857. McClatchy bought Knight-Ridder. The Bee has never been a part of Knight-Ridder.

    [Thanks, Huey. I fixed it by linking to your comment. — DRJ]

    huey (c71923)

  14. Calvan: “Don’t you know who I am?”

    Sentry: “Yes, you’re the God Damn Batman… *chambers a round, and aims* Now show me some ID.”

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  15. Whenever you see such a one-sided comments section, one is often either dealing with a coordinated effort (eg. astroturf), or one is really and truly a world-class ass.

    I tried to disabuse him of the former notion in my comment… but I really think the guy who paraphrased the Real Ultimate Power website won the thread, hands down.

    My sides are still hurting…

    TheNewGuy (114368)

  16. Calvan is an idiot. He’s fortunate that Al Qaeda hasn’t beheaded him. Come to think of it, Al Qaeda probably sent him back to the Green Zone figuring that he’ll do more damage than a suicide bomber could.

    PCD (b47ba5)

  17. Anybody else believe that Comment #47 on Docweasel’s save is really Dan Rather? I’m inclined to believe it.

    nk (da3e6b)

  18. Sorry, Comment #37. (Fat finger syndrome.)

    nk (da3e6b)

  19. I can’t rule it out.

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  20. in this reporters defense, what was he supposed to do? He thought the soldier was being needlessly stubborn and he may have been correct…after all, they let him in after he persistently mentioned his media credentials. Sounds like a better deal than being stuck in non green zone Baghdad. (i know they won’t let me on a plane with 4ox of shampoo no matter who i work for). Obviously, being a prick helped. But if I was writing about the experience, I probably would’ve been more kind to the people doing their job, though, even if they were being overbearing.

    Abby (8e0e3b)

  21. “I know the Miami Herald, he said. I used to live there. But I never heard of Knight Ridder.”
    In the reporter’s defense:
    Given how the Herald likes to tout Knight Ridder, and Knight Ridder likes to tout itself in the community, it’s odd that the soldier never heard of K-R, unless his time in Miami was fairly short. Even an intermittent reader of the Herald would be likely to recognize the name.
    The most charitable interpretation is that he paid no attention to the local newspapers, which further suggests that he probably doesn’t think too highly of journalists in the first place.
    IOW, Calvan wasn’t the only one throwing attitude around.

    kishnevi (48abd2)

  22. Maybe he expected the guard to ask him who won the 1938 World Series, just like they do in the movies.

    Or maybe the soldier was supposed to racially profile the reporter, deciding he was American because he was white or something.

    PatHMV (0b955c)

  23. Calvan is Asian-American. From the Asian-American Journalists’ Association website:


    Bobby Caina Calvan, a reporter for The Sacramento Bee, will be serving a tour of duty in the Baghdad bureau of McClatchy Newspapers, the Bee’s parent company. He is expected to be in Iraq for six weeks. Calvan is a member of the AAJA Sacramento board. To catch up on his adventures in Iraq, visit his blog at . He bids everyone a fond ma’as-salaama.”

    He’s American but I assume his heritage might make it harder for a soldier to identify or profile him.

    DRJ (970b3a)

  24. He’s American but I assume his heritage makes it harder for a soldier to identify or profile him.

    Not that it would have mattered. Show me the ID I ask for, or find another way, bubba.

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  25. I agree, Scott. It’s not about secret American handshakes or knowing looks with “my security staff.” Calvan should follow the rules and show some ID. The good news is Calvan will only be there 6 weeks. I just hope he doesn’t come home an “expert” on Iraq.

    DRJ (970b3a)

  26. #20 Abby & #21 kishnevi:

    “He thought the soldier was being needlessly stubborn and he may have been correct…”

    “The most charitable interpretation is that he paid no attention to the local newspapers, which further suggests that he probably doesn’t think too highly of journalists in the first place.”

    Having stood watches in places where it’t not a good idea to focus on a single task to the exclusion of all else going on around me, I’d guess that the sentry may have appeared distracted more so than overbearing or having an attitude. That the sentry had the patience and wherewithal to check with other authority to grant Calvan permission to pass is a reflection of his professional behavior.

    I’ve been on both sides of the gate, and have run into a couple of guys with bad attitudes. (In one instance, a guard confiscated my government issued ID because he was unfamiliar with its format, causing me two days lost work while getting a replacement issued. Not happy about that, but the ID belongs to the government…not me.) In the main however, the guys (and gals) have been remarkably professional…and are quite willing to go to great lengths to assist if you treat them with a little courtesy and patience.

    OTOH, I’m not as patient as I once was. Calvan would not have passed by me that day.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  27. Nor would he have passed by me.

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  28. Anyone who goes to a war zone knows what the rules are or they are idiots. Calvan shows exactly what he is. Someone who believes he is above the rules. Typically he acts as all bullies do.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  29. Knight Ridder ceased to exist in June of 2006.

    Had I been the guard and known that, I’d have immediately scheduled Mr. Calvan with an interview with the appropriate police/intelligence types.

    Possibly forged ID, who is going to be idiot enough to try and use an ID that’s been obsolete for over a year. Well, we now know the answer to that, don’t we?

    LarryD (feb78b)

  30. Ignorant jerk fails to learn basic requirements for security.

    Ignorant jerk is made to wait for a little while as a soldier has to find a work-around.

    Ignorant jerk complains online.

    Ignorant jerk is slammed.

    Ignorant jerk removes post and tries to act like nothing happened.

    Foxfier (290c52)

  31. When we lost over 200 marines in the Beirut bombing in 1983 one of the facts that came out afterwards was that the rules of engagement made it almost impossible for the sentry to defend. Too many safeguards to avoid an accidental shooting were in place.
    I’m glad that our personnel are trained to challenge everyone. They are the first line of defense for those inside the perimeter. The reporter probably got a briefing on security procedures that he didn’t pay much attention to. Bet he pays attention the next time.

    Voice of Reason (10af7e)

  32. Although his writing makes him appear to be a seasoned veteran in Iraq, it looks like Bobby was there less than two weeks when he penned his infamous post.

    jimboster (6e04e1)

  33. Re: #29…I didn’t know that about Knight-Ridder…dullard that I am, I don’t follow the various MSM mergers and buy-outs as closely as I do late summer baseball standings. But, following up on Larry’s thought….imagine what fun Bobbie Calvan would have had on assignment in Israel with his obsolete ID and deciding to get “pushy” the Shin Bet guys. What a series of YouTube moments that would have generated. Is it possible to be snarky when you and your “security officer” are face down on the floor in choke-holds?

    driver (faae10)

  34. “with nothing to lose….”

    That is funny.

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  35. It is obvious that the low skill, poorly educated soldiers serving as guards need better supervision. Mr. Calvan should have tried to get the attention of the guards first line officer. Sometimes that is difficult. Mr. Calvan should carry several highway flares, strapped around his waist, that he take out and wave around to flag down superior officers when he runs into guards that probably do not have degrees in English or journalism.

    huey (c71923)

  36. Hmmm, good idea Huey, highway flares would get the attention of most soldiers real quick, especially if tied around the waist.

    Most MSM people have less commonsense than most soldiers and infinitely less experience overseas. I know I’d never trust one of these cry babies.

    I’d also suggest journalists should adopt ski masks and green scarfs so that their outfits conform to their behavior.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  37. That comment from huey must be over the top satire.

    JD (e88f7b)

  38. That comment from huey must be over the top satire.

    Has to be. That’s way too complicated to get someone’s attention. Calvan should just fire a shot in the air.

    nk (da3e6b)

  39. My blog has some NSFW posts, so I can see why you didn’t want to link me directly, I respect that, but I also have some emails I exchanged with him (mentioned on USA Today’s blog, of all places, with quotes from some guy purporting to be “Doc Weasel” (if that IS his real name) and a letter from the SacBee server claiming to be from a co-worker defending him. Dan Riehl is also doing some great investigative work on Calvan’s background.

    Just more grist for the mill.

    docweasel (5df2ea)

  40. docweasel,

    I’m happy to link you and I’ll add it in the main post. I had originally linked directly to Bobby Calvan’s blog – I wrote this yesterday and his blog was still up then. It wasn’t until I posted today that I realized his blog had been taken down so I substituted the Instapundit link instead.

    Thanks for coming over. You did a great job on this.

    DRJ (970b3a)

  41. Whether it’s the Herald with imput from the Minneapolis Tribune; the new editor’s from there.
    or McClatchy; they put out a consistently negative and often incomplete picture. Warren Strobel always plays up Valerie Plame’s whining;
    Iranian propaganda; downplay’s Richard Clark’s
    contradictory testimony/ Leila Fadel always down plays the surge. Another set of reporters are transcriptionists for Hezbollah

    narciso (d671ab)

  42. It doesn’t seem to be allowing comments though.

    I wonder why.

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  43. #43 Scott Jacobs:

    I wonder why.

    He’s posted a mea culpa, where comments are allowed.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  44. Treating US soldiers like they’re incompetent parking lot employees and bragging about it doesn’t pay I guess.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  45. My comment awaits moderation – though considering the comments he allowed, I am 100% certain mine will get through.

    swj719 is my handle there. Folks, he might actually mean this. He’s cowboyed up, and on the internet it’s easy to NOT do that.

    Give him a chance. It’s possible he might turn out ok.

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  46. Or it’s possible he’s a weaselly little bastard – the type of man who either treats you as if he is your master or treats you like you’re his depending on who he thinks is more powerful – got bitched out by his bosses for being a weaselly little bastard and is begging forgiveness at their order.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  47. Chaos, at least wait and see.

    We know little to nothing about this guy. Foer is one thing, this is another.

    Lets just wait and see what he becomes…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  48. I wonder if he’ll get off entirely. Do you think he’ll get a few CO’s saying “Mr. Calvan? Oh, yes, I read your blog.” And perfect behavior otherwise, just a remark or two like this to keep him looking over his shoulder?

    Susan said:
    October 24th, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    Wow. Congratulations. I don’t think I’ve ever read a blog comment section where so many people were in such complete agreement.

    And he didn’t even have to delete any comments like Kos and Firedoglake!

    Jim C. (a6819b)

  49. It was big of asshat to kind of apologize. He would have been better served apoligizing to the young man that he treated so poorly.

    JD (e88f7b)

  50. You’d think he might have spell checked ‘blogoshpere’ on his mea culpa post. Ha! Clueless to the last.

    Dailybayonet (6f37d2)

  51. #47 chaos:

    …a weaselly little bastard…

    That’s an unfair to weasels comparison. :(

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  52. He could have reminded he was from the Sacramento Bee; the paper that led the Chandra Levy/Gary Condit media circus in the months before September 11th. On second though, the soldier might have shot him right then and there. What is with California beat reporters that punch above their weight and let their conjectures get out of
    hand. The last one of these was Gary Webb, who concocted the “Dark Alliance” CIA/Drug hysteria out of John Kerry’s discarded hearings transcripts
    and the whining of a drug dealer’s girlfriend.

    narciso (d671ab)

  53. Folks, lets just give it some time. I hope he takes my suggestions to heart, and I would love to see him interview the Sentry the original post was about.

    He’s got a chance. Let him take it.

    Don’t prove “Been There” right.

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  54. Scott Jacobs,

    Maybe you’re right. He doesn’t seem to be coming from some kind of anti-military standpoint; he just seems to be an arrogant jackass who thinks being an arrogant jackass makes you cool, he was an arrogant jackass to the sentry, it made him feel cool, he posted about it on his blog with the hope of having other people tell him how cool he is for being an arrogant jackass. He seems genuinely chastened by the reaction.

    I still think he’s a weaselly little bastard though.

    chaos (2a6b46)

  55. Well, so do I, but that’s based solely on that one bit.

    He might well turn it around.

    Scott Jacobs (425810)


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