OLD Media Moves

Remembering The Economist’s Peter David

May 21, 2012

Posted by Chris Roush

The latest issue of The Economist has a tribute to its Washington bureau chief, Peter David, who died earlier this month in a car accident.

It states, “Had Peter David come to pen his parting thoughts, he might well have reflected on American exceptionalism. Sadly, this column must now celebrate his own.

“To begin with there was his range. From leaders to book reviews, Peter spread himself thick. He joined The Economist in 1984 to write about science, then became a specialist writer on the Middle East, ran the paper’s business sections, turned Bagehot columnist as political editor, took over as foreign editor (‘the job I’m told I’ve always wanted’) and in 2009 moved to Washington, DC. He wrote special reports on everything from Islam to international banking.

“Some great journalists venture boldly into war zones. Peter did that occasionally, but his forte was to stride fearlessly across minefields of ideas. Politicians who dabbled in demagoguery — a shameless attempt by William Hague, then Britain’s opposition leader, to exploit the killing of an intruder, or Newt Gingrich’s bluster over plans for a mosque near the site of the twin towers in New York — quickly found themselves under fire. Peter’s two-page cover editorials, such as on the eve of the first Gulf war (‘Don’t save this face‘, January 12th 1991) or on the latest crisis between Arabs and Jews (‘The hundred years’ war‘, January 10th 2009), were models of mind-clearing prose. He shunned the limelight and left behind no great tome — indeed, he was fond of mocking the one volume he did write, a coffee-table book on the first Gulf war called ‘Triumph in the Desert’ — yet few people did more to shape this newspaper’s views on the great issues of geopolitics over the past quarter-century.”

Read more here.

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