Robert Sharon Allen, whose byline was also "Robert S. Allen" (1900– February 23, 1981), was a Washington D.C. correspondent and Washington bureau chief for The Christian Science Monitor.
Robert Sharon Allen was born on July 14, 1900, in Latonia, Kentucky to Harry and Lizzie (Elizabeth) Greenberg. Robert's given name was Herman Greenberg. He changed his name and lied about his age in order to join the military on September 6, 1916. His father officially changed his name to match his son's in 1918 claiming that there was a German "taint" to the last part of his name and he desired a real American Name. After that time all the family except his brother Isador used the name.
Allen joined the army, lying about his age in order to do so, and served in the cavalry during the Pancho Villa Expedition of 1916–17 and in France during World War I.
After the war, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin and took up reporting. He joined the Ku Klux Klan in order to write an exposé about them, and was studying in Munich at the time of Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch (1923). It was at this time he became a foreign correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor.
In 1931, Allen was the Washington bureau chief for the Christian Science Monitor. Because the magazine would not publish content critical of Herbert Hoover, Allen and Drew Pearson anonymously co-wrote the book Washington Merry-Go-Round, an exposé of the Hoover administration. After Hoover tracked down their identities, both authors were fired. In 1932 the two journalists published a sequel, More Merry-Go-Round, and wrote a nationally syndicated column titled "Merry-Go-Round".
In 1933, Allen worked as a Soviet agent (Sh/147) for $100 a month. According to John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev in their 2009 book Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, this was legal for Allen to do, being prior to the passage of the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act, and his motivation is unknown.
In 1933, Allen was a fully recruited and undoubtedly witting Soviet agent. Under the assigned cover name of "George Parker," he covertly exchanged privileged information for money. He provided the Soviets with intelligence about Japanese military fortifications; news about potential appointments in the incoming Roosevelt administration; and information about the US government's plans for diplomatic recognition of the Soviet Union.
In the early forties he co-wrote the newspaper strip Hap Hopper with Drew Pearson. The strip was drawn by Jack Sparling.
He served on General Patton's staff in World War II.
In 1947, he edited the book, Our Fair City, an exposé of corrupt conditions in American municipalities. He also wrote Lucky Forward: The History of Patton's Third Army. Papers concerning his military career reside in the George S. Patton Museum at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Allen was a CIA wiretap subject, according to documents released by the agency in 2007. Associated Press reported:
"Under pressure from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy" in 1962, CIA director John McCone "agreed to tap the telephones of columnists Robert S. Allen and Paul Scott in an effort to identify their sources for classified information which was appearing in their columns," says a memo a decade later to the agency's director."
Allen died age 80 on February 23, 1981, in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Allen had cancer and had ended his journalism career when his illness made it impossible for him to work.
- Obituary: "ROBERT S. ALLEN, POLITICAL COLUMNIST". The New York Times. February 25, 1981.