Elizabeth Palmer, CBS News foreign correspondent, is in New York to pick up a duPont-Columbia Award for her story “The Road to Aleppo.” Palmer is in Syria several times a year to cover the developing story there, and has done so for five years. She was actually on vacation, hiking in France with her husband, when she found out she won the prestigious duPont-Columbia—16 are given out January 16 for excellence in journalism--after turning on her phone in a cafe.
“I burst into tears—I was stunned and overwhelmed,” she said.
Palmer’s husband calmly ordered champagne.
The Syrian government was less enthused with Palmer’s story, which touched on a pair of children killed by mortar fire while walking to school in Aleppo. She says the government, claiming bias in her reporting, banned her in the country. She’s working on obtaining a new visa. “Hope springs eternal,” says Palmer.
After years of reporting in the country, she’s become a fan of Syria. After centuries of foreign invasions, and emerging as a home to substantial constituencies of Christians, Jews, Muslims and other religions, she says, “People there have a huge tolerance. They’re hugely hospitable and brave.”
Syrian food, she adds, is “to die for.”
Next up for Palmer is the Russian election in March. She lived in Russia for six years, and became “very interested in the rise of Putin,” said Palmer.
Vladimir Putin’s election is hardly in doubt, but she says the big story is what comes next. “Everyone has their eye on who gets in line for the next presidential run,” says Palmer.
Palmer interviewed Putin, while he wore a hockey uniform, in May. The unique backdrop of the clip—Putin is about to play in an amateur hockey game as he discusses James Comey’s dismissal from the FBI—helped it get real traction.
“I’d never gone viral before,” admits Palmer.