Going Postal: Reporters Reportedly Throw Punches in Press Room at the Washington Post

PH2005121601018180px-El_Hijo_De_Santo_vs_Blue_Demon_JrThe Washington Post recently saw a journalistic battle of a different kind when Style reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia and editor Henry Allen got into a physical altercation. Punches reportedly flew from the reporters until other journalists intervened — and presumably began to try to grab an exclusive on the cause for the fight. Left is a picture of Roig-Franzia and right may or may not be a picture of Allen in an editorial meeting.

Witnesses say that it was Allen who punched Roig-Franzia after the latter came to the defense of reporter Monica Hesse, after Allen told her that it was “the second worst story I have seen in Style in 43 years.” Ok, you got me, what was the worst story?

The question apparently was left unanswered in a room of reporters after Allen went postal. Roig-Franzia was working on the story with Hesse and told Allen not to be such a “c—sucker.” Roig-Franzi reportedly called Allen a “dick” and tore a page from his notebook during a staff meeting preceding the fight. Allen reportedly demanded, “Give me my fucking notebook” and Roig-Franzia complied. It is well known in the business that one reporter does not touch another reporter’s notebook — it is like one cowboy touching another cowboy’s hat.

In his defense, Allen was upset over errors in a piece on a civil war battle that put the battle in the wrong state. (The worst piece in his view apparently was a story on Paul Robeson that was full of errors).

Allen reportedly threw two punches — hitting Roig-Franzi once before Washington Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli jumped in and hit Allen with a chair and did a piledriver on Roig-Franzia. Ok, I made up that last part. He broke up the fight.

It is not clear if Brauchli then announced to the whole newsroom: “The First Rule of the Post Club is You Do Not Talk About the Post Club. The Second Rule of the Post Club is You Do Not Talk About the Post Club.”

Allen may be feeling a bit frisky and carefree: he accepted a buyout from the Post recently and only had a few weeks left on his contract. Allen insists that this is just a sign of the Namby Pamby times that journalists are living in: “Back when I got into journalism, the idea that a fistfight in a newsroom would turn into a news story was unthinkable. The guys in the sports department at the New York Daily News, they had so many, you wouldn’t even look up.”

Indeed, here is an early video from the Post newsroom when Allen started as a new reporter:

. . . and that was just the Food Section.

For the full story, click here and here.

10 thoughts on “Going Postal: Reporters Reportedly Throw Punches in Press Room at the Washington Post”

  1. @ Vince Treacy:
    Thanks for the link and the info. I went to check out the blog of the Allen dude. And with the tidbits you give above, I’m a total fan of the man. Looks like a guy I’d smoke a joint with!!! And to hell the two younger colleagues who “de-constructed” and “dis-located” the a Civil War battle…

  2. There is a need for fuller coverage here. First of all, there is a picture of Manuel up top, but how about equal time for Henry in the form of his own self-portrait:


    In his own words, “Intense. Mercurial. Bald. Bearded. (See “Picture of My Face.”) Artist: 2008 group shows in Truro, Mass. (“Celebrating the Hopper Landscape) and Takoma Park, Md., Boathouse Gallery Christmas show; upcoming solo show June 2009 at Strathmore Hall, N. Bethesda, Md. Marine veteran of Vietnam. Backpacked to India, the whole ’60s show. Journalist, poet, novelist. Critic in New York Review of Books, New Yorker. Editor, staff writer at The Washington Post. Pulitzer Prize for criticism, 2000. Studied English and art at Hamilton College, art at Montgomery College, Corcoran Gallery. Taught cultural analysis in U. of Maryland honors program. Currently playing with idea that contrary to modernist dogma, essence resides not in simplicity but complexity.”

    Note entry as Vietnam Marine Veteran AND Pulitzer Prize for criticism. Not too many resumes with that double.

    Next, in answer to a question, Henry is 68, and due to retire in weeks, so he had clearly moved into the “Take this job and shove it” zone.

    The “worst story” was an error-filled piece about Paul Robeson that never saw the light of day.

    Allen does not seem to suffer fools gladly, especially one who A) calls him a dick, B) reaches over and grabs his paper, and C) calls him a c.s. Manuel did not pick a good target for his mouthing off, and as a result executed a face plant into Allen’s fist. Provocation. Luckily at age 68, it is doubtful that a punch can cause any harm.

    Finally, Allen picked a good time to retire from the Post formerly known as a newspaper. The Post site has yet to print a word about this story.

  3. The Post’s journalism has deteriorated over the past decade, although they’ve always been weak in a variety of areas like local news (much love of former Mayor Williams, fear of Marion Barry, general ignorance of the DC area), Sports (DC is no sports town and the slavish devotion to the Redskins laughable) and health (general stupidity, esp. if a number is present in the story). Putting a civil war battle in the wrong state is pretty egregious.

  4. I don’t get it. If this Allen guy just saw this horrible article “in 43 years,” how old is the dude? If he’s that old, then he needs to retire and leave these two younger younger journalists cavort in the pressroom. If I got it wrong, then does this Allen dude have nothing better to do in his spare time than reread the archives of the Post dating back from when, I don’t know, Elvis was stoned on stage? On the other hand, in defense of the Allen dude, why and how on earth would a Post journalist “misplace” the location of a Civil War Battle? Have all journalists turned into “entertainers” like Glenn Beck???

  5. I grew up within a NY Times reading family and I read it every day for at least forty years. Then I began to notice that as the days went by I was less and less interested in each edition and my reading time became less and less. I saw the editiorial and op ed pages as repositories of either Beltway or corporatist leanings. Finally, the only thing I looked forward to was the crossword in the Sunday Magazine and the Book Reviews. After a time it became apparent that even the book reviews were done in a way that screwed the books that weren’t on someone’s approval list for literature. I haven’t subscribed to or read papers for ten years and I get my Sunday Crosswords from available compendiums of Sunday Times Crosswords. I get my news mainly from the net and I am better informed now than I ever was. It is a sad truth that newspapers are about to become extinct.

  6. This is exactly what I’ve come to expect from WaPo. Low quality . . . something. It’s rarely news, but it is something. I’m no more surprised by this than if the report read “Shepard Smith Bites Off Ailes’ Ear In Watercooler Deathmatch”. When one works with poo flinging monkeys, one should expect to get a little on them.

  7. Well I never. This is a respected journalistic magazine that I look to every day for important life guidance. For those of you who are fashion challenged I give you the pick of the day:


    A peek-a-boo vintage Givenchy couture dress with pewter satin Dior heels and DeBeers jewelry

    The Tribute to Cinema hosted by Moet & Chandon in Tokyo

    Johansson looked red hot in a slim sheath with a sexy cleavage-revealing cutout. Try the peek-a-boo trend without having to amp up your workout by showing off your decolletage.

  8. “Allen told her that it was “the second worst story I have seen in Style in 43 years.” Ok, you got me, what was the worst story?”

    I suppose he would know the worst story ever written, I suppose he wrote it.

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