The twitterverse is in angst about yesterday’s passing of David Carr. I don’t recall reading his work until this morning. I may have missed something.
The most important news to come out of the peculiar stew of New York City journalism this week was not Carr’s death nor NBC News Anchor Brian Williams’ suspension for lying about the war in Iraq, nor Jon Stewart’s announcement he will be leaving The Daily Show.
It was the death of Bob Simon in an auto accident. An ignoble end to an engaged journalist who has been part of my life since the 1970s.
The 73-year-old CBS veteran, who won 27 Emmy Awards in a career spanning five decades, had to be cut from a mangled livery cab that rear-ended a Mercedes-Benz and slammed into a concrete median near W. 30th St. ~New York Daily News
The CBS obituary was less graphic, but for those of us who were fans, like Simon, we can take what the world dishes out.
My memory of Simon will be his assignments at 60 Minutes after being held hostage during the First Gulf War.
During the early days of the Persian Gulf War in 1991, Simon was imprisoned and tortured by the Iraqi army along with three CBS News colleagues. He later chronicled the experience in a book, “Forty Days.”
“…This was the most searing experience of my life,” Simon told the Los Angeles Times. “…I wrote about it because I needed to write about it.” ~ CBS News
My reaction to his first 60 Minutes segments after being released was that considering where he had been, they were puff pieces. That is not a criticism—he deserved a break.
On Simon’s death, Sir Howard Stringer, who led CBS while Simon was in prison, said, “Simon was every inch the network correspondent from the golden age.”
Responding to a question on CBSN about whether Simon was ever afraid in the field, Stringer recalled working with him in Northern Ireland in the ’70s during a confrontation between the British army and the Irish Republican Army.
“There was no sense of this being anything but another day in the life, and I don’t think he ever thought about it very much,” Stringer said. “I never was aware of him being afraid of anything. I mean, he volunteered for everything.”
Unique circumstances make figures in the national media possible. There are successes and failures—trials and twittering. There are a few that have been in difficult situations and fewer still that report from them on a national platform.
Bob Simon was one of them, and his presence will be missed.