R.W. “Johnny” Apple Dead at 71
The legendary columnist R.W. Apple has died.
From the NYT:
R. W. Apple Jr., who in more than 40 years as a correspondent and editor at The New York Times wrote about war and revolution, politics and government, food and drink, and the revenge of living well from more than 100 countries, died early this morning in Washington. He was 71. The cause was complications of thoracic cancer.
With his Dickensian byline, Churchillian brio and Falstaffian appetites, Mr. Apple, who was known as Johnny, was a singular presence at The Times almost from the moment he joined the metropolitan staff in 1963. He remained a colorful figure as new generations of journalists around him grew more pallid, and his encyclopedic knowledge, grace of expression — and above all his expense account — were the envy of his competitors, imitators and peers.
Mr. Apple enjoyed a career like no other in the modern era of The Times. He was the paper’s bureau chief in Albany, Lagos, Nairobi, Saigon, Moscow, London and Washington. He covered 10 presidential elections and more than 20 national nominating conventions. He led The Times’s coverage of the Vietnam war for two and a half years in the 1960’s and of the Persian Gulf war a generation later and he chronicled the Iranian revolution in between.
As a political correspondent, Mr. Apple, beginning in 1972, paid attention to the Iowa precinct caucuses when they were still largely ignored by the national press. Four years later, he helped turn the caucuses into an important test of a candidate’s strength by being one of the first reporters to spot the potential appeal of a little-known former governor of Georgia named Jimmy Carter. In later years, he turned the same searching, child-like curiosity to writing about food, architecture and travel from around the nation and the globe.
For a generation, The Times turned to Mr. Apple to write front-page “News Analysis” articles, putting great events of the day into longer-term perspective. His best were 1,200-word tapestries of history, erudition and style; the worst were clear and concise, but reflected conventional wisdom that sometimes proved wrong.
R.W. Apple Jr., the longtime New York Times correspondent who charted the fall of Richard Nixon and covered wars from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf while having a parallel career as a food and travel writer, died Wednesday. He was 71.
He also extensively chronicled the Watergate scandal. “It was a tragedy in three acts,” Apple wrote in the lead of his story about Nixon’s resignation in August 1974. “In 1972, Richard M. Nixon _ a man who had often failed, who had been derided by the fashionable and the intellectual, who had made and remade himself into a winner _ arrived at the pinnacle of his career,” he wrote. “In 1973, he found himself besieged by his enemies, forced onto the defense. And in 1974, he fell from power, humiliated as no predecessor has ever been.”
In 1992, as the first President Bush was unsuccessfully seeking his second term, Apple wrote: “But the brakes of history seem to be working against Mr. Bush and his party. … The end of the cold war has robbed the president’s party of one of its mightiest swords.”
He had an amazing career and will surely be missed.