CBS news correspondent Bob Simon dies at 73

by Frederic Friedel
2/13/2015 – He was a giant of broadcast journalism, who over a 47-year career at CBS News earned more than 40 major awards, including 27 Emmys and four Peabodys. Bob Simon, who died tragically in a car accident on Wednesday night, covered most major overseas conflicts from the late 1960s to the present. In 2011 he did a wonderful 60 Minutes segment on chess, which you should watch again.

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NEW YORK – Bob Simon, the longtime "60 Minutes" correspondent and legendary CBS News foreign reporter, died suddenly Wednesday night in a car accident in New York City. Simon was riding in the backseat of a livery cab around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday on New York City's West Side Highway when the car rear-ended another vehicle and crashed into barriers separating north- and southbound traffic, the New York Police Department said in a statement. Unconscious with head and torso injuries, Simon was transported to St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital where he died. The livery cab driver was taken to another hospital with injuries to his arms and legs.

Read the full CBS report here – and watch the following very moving video obituary:

If this video embed does not run in your country you can try on the CBS page, where there is a full obitury

CBS News correspondent Bob Simon, 1941-2015

Bob Simon at the London Chess Classic 2011

Robert David "Bob" Simon, born May 29, 1941, was an American television correspondent for CBS News. During his career, he covered crises, war, and unrest in sixty-seven countries. Simon reported the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam, the Yom Kippur War in in 1973, and the student protests in China's Tiananmen Square in 1989. During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, he and four of his TV crew were captured and imprisoned by Iraq, about which experience he wrote a book, Forty Days.

He became a regular correspondent for CBS's 60 Minutes in 1996. At the time of his death he was serving as 60 Minutes senior foreign correspondent. Simon is described as having been "a giant of broadcast journalism" by CBS News President David Rhodes, and is recognized as one of the few journalists who have covered most of the major overseas conflicts since 1969. For his extensive reporting over a 47-year career, he earned more than 40 major awards, including the Overseas Press Club awards and 27 Emmy Awards for journalism. – More at Wiki.

Chatting with Natasha Lance Rogoff, Executive Producer of Sesame Street International,
producer of award-winning documentaries – and wife of Ken the famous economist

On a personal note

I got to know Bob Simon during the London Chess Classic 2011, where he and a very pleasant CBS production crew were producing a 60 Minutes segment on chess (see below) – specifically on the world's number one player Magnus Carlsen. I was one of Bob's "victims". Knowing that I had been associated with Magnus since his early teens he put me in front of a camera and grilled me for well over an hour. I am never comfortable giving long interviews – and basically sitting on the wrong side of the lens. But it was a unique experience to see how such a great reporter worked, how he framed his questions, how he tickled information out of the guest he was talking to.

Bob was in London for a number of days, and we soon were friends, sharing a passion for travel, exotic countries, adventure and reporting. We spent many hours chatting at the LCC venue and had a couple of dinners together. Again it was I who learned from my senior and legendary colleague, who had no problems spending a lot to time telling me stories from his unique career.

A shot of Friedel and Simon taken by his executive producer Michael Gavshon with a Blackberry

But it wasn't a one-way street. Bob was eager to dig into my past and extract all the chess information he could get – about the great players, the game, computers, their effect on the game. In the end he said there was enough material for a follow-up 60 Minutes segment and that I should look him up if I was in New York. We corresponded for a while – unfortunately not on chess but on our common love for one-liners and short IQ jokes, which Bob collected on his smartphone. Here are some we shared:

  • A programmer's wife tells him: ‘Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.’ The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.

  • Patient: "Doctor, I keep forgetting things, all the time, even things that happened very recently." Doctor: "When did it start?" Patient: "When did what start?"

  • Three logicians walk into a bar. The bartender asks "Do all of you want a drink?" The first logician says "I don't know." The second logician says "I don't know." The third logician says "Yes!"

  • The two main problems in computing are cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors.

  • This sentence contains exactly threee erors.

I will miss these exchanges, and miss a friend from whom I could learn so much.

Mozart of Chess: Magnus Carlsen

CBS's famous 60 Minutes program aired some extraordinary HD footage, shot during the London Chess Festival, on the world's strongest grandmaster. Magnus comes across as likeable, focused and disarmingly honest. "Mozart of Chess" was originally aired on Feb. 19, 2012 and was rebroadcast on July 8, 2012. Watch the full 13-minute segment – and some interesting bonus material CBS placed at our disposal.

We strongly advocate switching to full-screen mode by clicking on the icon shown on the right. After that you can lean back and watch the report in full HD, and enjoy the extraordinary quality of these 60 Minutes reports. CBS has published the full script of "Mozart of Chess", which you can read here.

The 60 Minutes team with Bob Simon spent almost a week in London at the Chess Classic. They set up a studio above a pizza shop next door and filmed a lot of interviews with people attending the LCC. Of course they could only use tiny bits of the footage in the main segment, but they put some of the material into their 60 Minutes Overtime segment and kindly sent us the following embeds. Once again, maximize to full HD to get full enjoyment of the video.

More of Bob Simon chatting with Magnus Carlsen

Very nice: Bob takes Magnus up into the London Eye, Magnus does not look down!

Will Magnus be recognised walking through the main street in Oslo?

Interview with ChessBase's Frederic Friedel, who was interviewed by Bob Simon in London

A compelling segment with GM Daniel King, author of some of our best training DVDs

If for some reason you cannot watch the videos in the above embeds try using the
CBS 60 Minutes home page or this CBS 60 Minutes Youtube page.

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.


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