McClatchy Reporter Calvan Created His Own Reality
Let’s revisit Bobby Caina Calvin’s blog for a few minutes, because even though he’s now pulled the entire thing offline, what it revealed about mainstream media reporting from Iraq is actually quite important.
LGF reader “Last Mohican” commented on a post by Calvan, on a story he filed about a US strike on Sadr City that purportedly killed children:
So much great stuff in this guy’s blog! Here’s more, about a U.S.-led raid on Sadr City, targeting a Shiite insurgent leader who was hiding there. The Army said that the only casualties were insurgents, but Iraqi police said that a woman and three children had been killed! Our brave, impartial hero set out to tell the story:
…the story that was already being composed in my mind. I was after vivid descriptions that could, if warranted, paint a scene of chaos, anger and grief.
From the nerve center of his operation, presumably some hotel in the Green Zone, our hero expertly attempted to send a woman into the scene of the carnage to gather some really troubling details:
Jenan, a Shiite member of our staff of local reporters, went to work to track down witnesses. She spoke to at least two by telephone. But I pressured her for more. I wanted an interview with a doctor. I wanted quotes from some of the injured, maybe even words that captured the anger and grief of the family of the dead.
Ultimately, the decision was made that it was too dangerous for Jenan to go into Sadr City. So, while our hero did some other important stuff, his Shiite colleague called a few Shiites she knew, and got some good stories about all the Shiite civilians that got killed while our troops were supposedly hunting a Shiite insurgent leader. As Calvan tells it:
We would have to gather the details by telephone. We would have to write around what we could not get.
And “write around what we could not get” was exactly what he did, by golly! Our hero once again stepped up to the plate and did the dangerous, difficult work that a lesser man would not dare to undertake: he spoke to Jenan on the phone, and then wrote a story about what she said, filling in the missing pieces himself, as necessary!
You know, when it comes to the crucially important task of putting our bumbling, incompetent, civilian-killing troops in their place, this brilliant, courageous man will do whatever it takes to get it done. I couldn’t possibly (seriously, I COULDN’T POSSIBLY) say it better than he said it himself:
Ultimately, it is up to us to decide how far we will take our quest for the truth. In has nothing to do with courage or fear. It’s about a mission.
And now after reading that description of Calvan’s blog post, here’s the article he wrote for McClatchy news service, based entirely on second- and third-hand information he got through the courageous act of picking up a telephone: U.S. says Sadr City raids kill 49 militants; Iraq says civilians died.
The gun battles erupted after armored military vehicles, backed by helicopter gunners, arrived on the fringes of Sadr City to conduct a door-to-door sweep for a rogue militia cell leader the United States accuses of masterminding the kidnapping of coalition soldiers and other foreign nationals in May and last November.
The target of the manhunt was neither captured nor killed, the military said.
“It’s the biggest raid in two months,” said Karem Hellal, 45, who was out on the street when the soldiers descended on his neighborhood.
In August, the U.S. military reported killing 32 suspected insurgents during air strikes in Sadr City.
Hellal said gunfire killed a neighbor’s 6-year-old child and seriously wounded the same neighbor’s 2-year-old son.
Sirens wailed as ambulances carried the injured to the hospital. Doctors treated casualties, including children, at Imam Ali hospital, the biggest in Sadr City.
UPDATE at 10/25/07 11:29:40 am: