Bob Simon

News Correspondent


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, Bob Simon (1941-2015) talks of his childhood growing up in the Bronx and his college years at Brandeis University. He speaks of his Fulbright Scholarship which enabled him to travel to Europe and Israel, describes his tenure at the United Nations,  and outlines his first job on the assignment desk at CBS News in 1967. He recalls working at CBS' London Bureau and reporting on the conflicts in Northern Ireland, and later covering the Vietnam War from Saigon in 1971-72. He explains how footage was relayed back to the U.S. during this time, and discusses the challenges of overseas reporting. He talks about covering the Yom Kippur War, the Portugal Colonial War, and Anwar Sadat's assassination. Simon then describes his move to the State Department (1981) and why he later regretted that decision. He speaks of becoming a national correspondent for CBS News in New York (1982-87) and being named CBS News' Chief Middle Eastern correspondent in 1987. Simon shares the experience of being held hostage in an Iraqi prison during the first Gulf War in 1991 (he was a prisoner for 40 days along with three other members of the CBS news team). He talks about joining 60 Minutes as a regular correspondent in 1996, and details some of his most memorable stories, including "The Traitor" with Ethel Rosenberg's brother David Greenglass, and "Curve Ball" an interview with the Iraqi defector Rafid Alwan (who fabricated the story about WMDs that helped drive the U.S. into war and actually walked out of the interview). Simon recalls covering Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, and describes the basics of how a story gets on the air. He concludes by sharing one of his favorite stories (and the one he felt was the most important), "The Selling of the Iraq War to the U.S."  Karen Herman conducted the interview in New York on October 15, 2013.

"It was television coverage that made it impossible for the Americans to stay in Vietnam… I mean the fact that the people in Tahrir Square could be watching the revolution in Indonesia, and then their own revolution on Al-Jazeera… this has become a crucial part of world politics. It is determining fates as much as anything else. Important things that happen like the Arab Spring, wouldn't have happened without television."

Highlights
Bob Simon on one of his favorite (and most important) 60 Minutes news stories: "The Selling of the War"
01:36
Bob Simon on using humor as a defense mechanism while he was a prisoner of war in Iraq
01:02
Bob Simon on the power of television
01:24
Bob Simon on the biggest challenge of reporting from Vietnam during the war
02:29
Bob Simon on advice to aspiring journalists
00:50
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and family growing up in the Bronx, NY; on his earliest memories of radio and early television
On his college years at Brandeis University; on his mentor; on getting a Fulbright scholarship and traveling to France and Israel; on working at the State Department
On transitioning from a job at the United Nations to journalism; on getting his first job on the assignment desk at CBS
On the culture and community at CBS News in 1967; on the first stories he covered
On moving to London in 1969; on working with Charles Collingwood at the CBS News London Bureau; on covering the conflicts in Northern Ireland in the 1960s; on being attacked by a mob
On covering the Vietnam War for CBS in 1971; on the changing public opinion about the war in America; on the challenges of covering the war from Vietnam; on Norman Lloyd and Ed Bradley
On the relationship between correspondents and crew; on the logistics of getting the footage back to CBS in the U.S; on covering the Yom Kippur War in 1973
05:47

Chapter 2

On covering the Yom Kippur War; on the challenges of remaining neutral when covering wars
On covering the Portugal Colonial War (1961-1974); on being assigned to the Tel Aviv Bureau; on Anwar Sadat's assassination and funeral
On working as the CBS News State Department correspondent (1981-82) in Beirut
On becoming a national correspondent for CBS News in Washington D.C and then New York
On returning to the Middle East; on the First Intifada; on the Chinese protests at Tiananmen Square; on being sent back to New York
On covering the Gulf War; on getting captured with his crew

Chapter 3

On details of his captivity in Iraq; on returning to Iraq; on beginning to report for 60 Minutes
09:49
On memorable stories he reported on 60 Minutes; on the War on Terror; on the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin
10:40
On the process of getting a story on the air; on some of his favorite 60 Minutes stories; on the importance of the story "Selling the Iraq War to the U.S"; on interviewing comedians
On 9/11; on the 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean
03:47
On the legacy of 60 Minutes; on why it's important for him to continue to work; on changes in technology; on advice to aspiring journalists; on the power of television and the integrity of news programs; on his career highlights and regrets
08:18
Shows

60 Minutes

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Bob Simon on working on 60 Minutes and how he came to be on the program
04:00
Bob Simon on the 60 Minutes story The Traitor and an interview with Muqtada al Sadr
04:01
Bob Simon on his favorite 60 Minutes  news stories: "Curveball" with WMD informant Rafid Alwan, and "Selling the Iraq War"
01:37
Bob Simon on the legacy of 60 Minutes: "the best news broadcast in America"
01:19

CBS News

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Bob Simon on working with Charles Collingwood and Morley Safer with CBS News in London early in his career
01:04
Bob Simon on covering the Vietnam War for CBS News in 1971; on the Tet Offensive; on the change in American public opinion about the war
09:07
Bob Simon on how CBS news portrayed the Vietnam War on television
01:18
Bob Simon on working as the CBS News State Department correspondent (1981-82) in Beirut
04:00
Bob Simon on becoming a national correspondent for CBS News in Washington D.C and then New York
08:22
Topics

9/11

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Bob Simon on his recollections of 9/11; on reporting from Israel
01:50

Advice

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Bob Simon on advice to aspiring journalists
00:50

Gulf War

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Bob Simon on covering the Gulf War; on getting captured, and later released, with his crew
12:14
Bob Simon on the basis of Colin Powell's speech to the United Nations that prompted the U.S. and its allies to enter the "War on Terror" in Iraq
03:16

Historic Events and Social Change

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Bob Simon on covering the territorial conflicts in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s through early 1970s
06:54
Bob Simon on covering the Yom Kippur War in 1973
02:46
Bob Simon on coverage of Anwar Sadat's assassination and funeral
02:24
Bob Simon on covering the British invasion of Argentina while he was the CBS New State Dept. correspondent
01:20
Bob Simon on covering the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the bombing of Beirut
00:39
Bob Simon on his coverage of the protests in Beijing in 1989 and just missing the Tiananmen Square uprising
05:07
Bob Simon on Benjamin Netanyahu and the political conflict in Israel between him and Yitzhak Rabin
01:13
Bob Simon on his recollections of 9/11; on reporting from Israel
01:50

Pivotal Career Moments

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Bob Simon on how his Bronx accent almost prevented him from being a reporter on-air
01:46

Television Industry

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Bob Simon on advice to aspiring journalists
00:50

Vietnam War

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Bob Simon on covering the Vietnam War for CBS News in 1971; on the Tet Offensive; on the change in American public opinion about the war
09:07
Bob Simon on the song the military chose as the evacuation signal for press to get out of Vietnam
01:55
Bob Simon on covering the end of the Vietnam War from Hanoi
03:25
Professions

Correspondent

View Profession
Bob Simon on one of his earliest job offers from WCBS (radio) - writing a script from wire copy
02:52
Bob Simon on his first job on the assignment desk for CBS News in 1967
05:15
Bob Simon on how he was treated as an American reporter while covering conflicts in Northern Ireland (1969-1971)
01:42
Bob Simon on how he explained the British/Ireland conflict to American audiences
01:09
Bob Simon on the ethics of news reporting and interacting with crew
04:56
Bob Simon on how they got footage from the field in Vietnam to the Bureau back in the U.S.
01:08
Bob Simon on the challenge of remaining neutral when reporting on wars
03:41
Bob Simon on reporting from the CBS Tel Aviv Bureau in the 1970s and his daily routine there
02:17
Bob Simon on his captivity in Iraq by Saddam Hussein's regime while reporting on the Gulf War
05:15
Bob Simon on having an interviewee walk out on him during an interview
03:33
Bob Simon on the process of developing a story for the news
04:05
Bob Simon on advice to aspiring journalists
00:50
Bob Simon on what he has learned about being a news correspondent and how he honed his "bullshit detector"
00:40
Genres

News and Documentary

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Bob Simon on how CBS news portrayed the Vietnam War on television
01:18
Bob Simon on asking to be assigned to the CBS Tel Aviv Bureau
02:52
Bob Simon on the changing nature of news
00:15
People

Dave Chappelle

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Bob Simon on Dave Chappelle and other comedians he is excited to do stories on
01:40

Charles Collingwood

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Bob Simon on working with Charles Collingwood and Morley Safer with CBS News in London early in his career
01:04

Walter Cronkite

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Bob Simon on the role Walter Cronkite had in arranging a historic meeting between Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin
01:05

Henry Kissinger

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Bob Simon on how Henry Kissinger arranged to get Simon and his crew rescued from capture by Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War
01:54

Yitzhak Rabin

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Bob Simon on covering the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
05:03

Dan Rather

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Bob Simon on how it worked when the CBS Anchor Dan Rather would "big-foot" a story Simon was covering 
00:32

Morley Safer

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Bob Simon on working with Charles Collingwood and Morley Safer with CBS News in London early in his career
01:04

Ariel Sharon

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Bob Simon on meeting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
00:40

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