60 Moments: Reporter Attacked by Senate Candidate

By: Tim Irr - Email
By: Tim Irr - Email

Getting attacked while covering news stories is known as a hazard of the business.

"You want that camera shoved up your ***, buddy? Don't think I won't do it," said one person under arrest to a WSAZ photographer.

Nearly every reporter and photographer will eventually fall under attack -- at least once. But what former WSAZ reporter and news director Loren Tobia experienced back in 1980 may be the most dramatic display.

Let's just say Tobia pushed the wrong button at a news conference in Charleston where a man named H. John Rogers announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat held by Robert Byrd.

"I think he talked for all of about 20 seconds and then said he would take serious questions," said Tobia in reflecting back on the incident.

"Now if you have any serious questions, I'll listen to them," said Rogers during the news conference.

"And I said I had a serious question, and I asked him if his stay in a mental institution will hurt his candidacy," said Tobia.

"Was that a serious question?" asked Rogers.

"He took offense to that. He had been in a mental institution. He came up to me and hit me in the eye. That was the end of the press conference. I went on the air that night with a black eye. It was the lead story on every station here in the market. It was on every network newscast that night. I was in the London Times. It was everywhere," said Tobia.

And it wasn't long after that when Loren fought his way to the top as news director at WSAZ.

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