Bob Simon, the most honored journalist in international reporting, has been contributing regularly to 60 Minutes since 1996. He was also a correspondent for all seven seasons of 60 Minutes II, from January 1999 to June 2005, after which he became a full-time 60 Minutes correspondent. The 2009–10 season is his 14th on the broadcast.
He has covered virtually every major foreign story in the last three decades and has accumulated scores of major awards along the way. His remarkable career was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in September 2003. In 2005, Simon was the first journalist to interview Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy at the center of the international incident between his country and the U.S. government, five years after his ordeal.
Simon’s news magazine work has won him nine of his 23 Emmy awards, the latest five for “The King of Sushi,” on the over-fishing of bluefin tuna; “Curveball,” the investigation of the Iraqi defector who provided the faulty testimony that eventually led America to war; “The Oil Sands” (2006), about extracting petroleum from Canada’s sand pits; “The Sea Gypsies” (2005), a report on the island-dwelling Moken peoples of Southeast Asia; and “Aftershock” (2005), about paramedics saving lives after an earthquake in Pakistan. Other winners broadcast on the Sunday edition are his profile of Italian actor-director Roberto Benigni (1999) and “Dirty War” (2000), a report about the Argentine government’s murderous campaign against dissidents. While at “60 Minutes II,” Simon received an Emmy Award (2000) and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award (2001) for “Shame of Srebrenica,” a report on heinous acts of genocide in Europe, and another Emmy Award (2000) for “The Lost Children,” a report on orphaned children shipped to Australia. He also received an Emmy Award (2001) and an IRE certificate (2001) for his investigation into the fate of a Navy pilot shot down in Operation Desert Storm. Simon has been honored with a Peabody Award (2000) for “a body of work by an outstanding international journalist on a diverse set of critical global issues.” In 1996 he received an Overseas Press Club (OPC) Award, a Peabody Award, and two Emmy Awards for his coverage of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and another OPC Award in 1991 for his coverage of the Gulf War.
Simon’s report on war-torn Sarajevo was part of the basis for an RTNDA Overall Excellence in Television Award received by CBS News in 1996. He has also won Emmy Awards for his reporting from Vietnam (two awards), Lebanon, Cambodia, Saudi Arabia, India, and China. He was a recipient of the 1997 Edward Weintal Prize given by Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy in recognition of “distinguished reporting on foreign policy and diplomacy.”
Simon’s work has appeared on nearly every CBS News broadcast. He landed many exclusive interviews for 60 Minutes, including one from the jail cell of the Hamas terrorist responsible for the 1996 Jerusalem bus bombings; Winnie Mandela; Dirk Coetze, the South African secret security captain who tortured and murdered countless blacks during apartheid; and Pete Peterson, a former prisoner of war who became America’s first ambassador to Hanoi, as he prepared to return to Vietnam.
Simon has also contributed acclaimed reports to CBS’s Olympics coverage. For the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, he chronicled the botched attempt of the Mossad, Israel’s secret intelligence agency, to avenge the deaths of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics—coverage that earned him an Emmy Award. For the broadcast of the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, he delivered a 30-minute piece on Louis Zamperini, an American Olympic runner who survived World War II as a prisoner of war of the Japanese and eventually triumphed over that and other extraordinary personal setbacks.
Simon was named CBS News’ chief Middle Eastern correspondent in 1987 and is recognized as the premier broadcast journalist in that part of the world. He was captured by Iraqi forces near the Saudi–Kuwaiti border during the opening days of the Gulf War in January 1991. He and the other three members of CBS News’ coverage team spent 40 days in Iraqi prisons, an experience Simon wrote about in his book Forty Days (Putnam, 1992). Two months after his release in March 1991 he returned to Iraq to do an hour-long documentary, Bob Simon: Back to Baghdad. He went to Baghdad again in January 1993 to cover the American bombing of Iraq.
His assignments are by no means restricted to the Middle East. In fact, Simon’s résumé reads something like a world history book. He has covered the activities of countless major international figures, both revered and infamous, including Pope John Paul II’s historic visits to Poland and Cuba, the release of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Ferdinand Marcos’ abrupt departure from the Philippines, Nicolae Ceausescu’s execution in Romania, and Francisco Franco’s death in Spain. Simon has chronicled dozens of the most important events of the past 30 years for CBS News, including the devastating earthquake in Kobe, Japan, the birth of Solidarity in Poland, and the horrific famine in Biafra.
He has seen more than his share of war and conflict. In addition to Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Sarajevo, and Tiananmen Square, Simon has reported from the frontlines on the American interventions in Grenada, Somalia, and Haiti, the revolutions in Portugal and Prague, the civil wars in Central America, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, the conflict in Northern Ireland, and the war between Britain and Argentina over the Falklands. Simon was with Israeli troops during the Yom Kippur War, with PLO fighters during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and in Gaza the day the Intifada began.
In addition to his distinguished work overseas, Simon has served as a national correspondent in New York for CBS News (1982–1987). He also spent time in Washington, D.C., as the CBS News State Department correspondent (1981–1982). Before that, he was assigned for the first time to CBS News’ Tel Aviv bureau (1977–1981).
While based in the London (1972–1977) and Saigon (1971–1972) bureaus, he reported extensively on the Vietnam War. He won an OPC award for his reporting on Hanoi’s 1972 spring offensive and was part of the CBS News team that won a 1975 OPC award for Best Radio Spot News for coverage of the end of the war. He covered its final six weeks and was on one of the last helicopters out of Saigon in 1975. He received another OPC award two years later for his coverage of Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat’s journey to Jerusalem. During his first tour in CBS News’ London bureau (1969–1971), he reported extensively on the troubles in Northern Ireland.
Simon joined CBS News in 1967 as a reporter and assignment editor based in New York. He covered campus unrest and inner-city riots, as well as the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
Simon served as an American Foreign Service officer (1964–1967). He was a Fulbright scholar in France and a Woodrow Wilson scholar.
He was born on May 29, 1941, in the Bronx, New York., and was graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brandeis University in 1962 with a degree in history. He and his wife, Françoise, have a daughter, Tanya, who is a producer for CBS News’ 60 Minutes in New York.