The incident attracted considerable attention partly because Greene had made a name for himself as a crusader on behalf of abused children and as an advocate of family values, notably in his best-selling book Good Morning, Merry Sunshine: A Father's Journal of His Child's First Year.
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Greene attended Northwestern University in Chicago and became a reporter and feature writer for the Chicago Sun-Times upon graduating in 1969; within two years he had a regular column in the paper and in late 1971 a collection of his writing was published in book form. Greene first drew significant national attention with his book, Billion Dollar Baby (1975), a diary of his experiences as a roadie for rock musician Alice Cooper. Greene's primary focus remained his newspaper column, for which he won the National Headliner's Award (an American journalism group) for best column in 1977. Shortly afterward, Greene switched to the competing Chicago Tribune. Greene also began making occasional guest appearances on local television, eventually landing a commentary slot on the ABC Television Network news program Nightline.
Greene was extremely popular as a writer but he had his critics, largely because of his syrupy sentimentality and often heavy writing. A Chicago alternative weekly newspaper ran a column called Bob Watch: We Read Him So You Don't Have To, which made fun of his work.