Sad news that Johnny Apple, legendary New York Times reporter, passed away at 71.
I admired his political writing back in the day when I aspired to cover Congress and was sitting in the Massachusetts State House press room for the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, still idealistic about daily journalism and the possibilities after Woodward and Bernstein energized the profession during Watergate. Alas, I was more interested in elections than legislation and made the move to tech journalism.
Apple was characterized by Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail as the single most connected reporter covering the Iowa caucuses, a reporter so attuned to the local political machines that other reporters went to him for insights and predictions. The Times obituary, which is magnificent as only the Times can do for one of their own, notes that many felt Apple deserved the Pulitzer for his coverage of the 1976 elections, especially his local knowledge during Iowa.
Apple was the best food and drink writer going. Not since A.J. Liebling’s writing about being a gourmand in Paris — Between Meals — has any journalist displayed as much passion and gusto for living well. Apple came close. The man travelled with his own personal pepper grinder.