"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."
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.