In his 47 years at CBS News, “60 Minutes” correspondent Bob Simon has covered 35 overseas conflicts: from Vietnam to Iraq. In 1991, he was held captive by Iraqi forces for 40 days during the first Persian Gulf War. With 25 Emmys and four Peabodys, he’s the most honored American foreign correspondent. And tonight he adds one more honor to the shelf: the Overseas Press Club’s highest honor, the President’s Award. Simon talked with Newsday’s Verne Gay about the honor, and a career full of fighting.
Why a career in battlefield reporting?
Simon: “A sort of pathology. A lot of it becomes an adrenalin addiction. That’s why so many people, when they retire, drop dead…”
What do you think of the coverage now?
Simon: “The people going out there were as good and as suicidal as we ever were. And look even at the networks or news organizations that tend to be extremist when they’re covering this country, they’re a lot better [covering international crises.] With all the trash that’s on TV these days … the quality and courage of people doing the war coverage is astonishing. I think Syria is more dangerous than anything I ever covered. The people who go into cover that are really taking their lives into their own hands. I was never scared being shot at as I was taken hostage, but that happens all the time in Syria.
Ever cover another war?
Simon: “No, because I have a grandson now.”
When do you plan to hang it up, if ever?
Simon: “When I can no longer remember my name…”