12 February 2015

Bob Simon

Strange are the ways of fate, or at least it seems that way when you look at the news these days. Just when everybody is getting excited (or nervous, or worried) about the rediscovery and promised publication of Harper Lee’s novel Go Set a Watchman and the return of Atticus and Scout — just when the movie Selma reminds us how arduous was the struggle for civil rights — comes State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore to remind us how little progress some Alabamians have made since — well, ever, really.

And just when everybody is talking about Brian Williams’ exaggerated claims about his wartime reporting and their impact on his career, Bob Simon dies.

A longtime CBS News correspondent, Bob didn’t have to lie about the many times he risked his life to report the news — though really his only extended remarks on the subject are contained in Forty Days, his account of captivity in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq during the first Gulf War. In that case, he explained, capturing the story was his way of getting back at his captors. Beyond that, he didn’t go around trying to impress people.

He didn’t have to. He simply was impressive, just standing there. Easily one of the most cultivated and intelligent people ever to work for CBS News, Bob was “old school” in the best ways, as close to the second coming of Charles Collingwood as we’re likely to get. A fine writer, a tough questioner, an authentically courageous field reporter and a true scholar, and surely the only guy in the newsroom who loved French culture as much as I did. A kind of grace possessed him. You wanted to have dinner with him (something I did on occasion), just to hear what he had to say.

Hard to believe he was 73 — no matter how much experience he crammed into his life. Harder still to believe that, after so many more-perilous scrapes, from Vietnam to Nablus, something as mundane as a car crash could end that life.

It’s 15 years since I worked in television news, and I admit that I don’t watch much TV any more. Yet when I look, I don’t see the like of Bob Simon. I never did. And so, as we fret about the future of American journalism, we have one more thing to worry about. Bob Simon is gone, with no heir in sight.

1 comment:

Anne said...

This is a tragedy. My deepest sympathy go out to his family and friends..