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David Simon ReasonTV interview
September 23, 2012 2:30 PM   Subscribe

Last week Reason Magazine posted a 20-minute video interview with David Simon (The Wire, Homicide, Treme and more) on its web site. On his personal blog Simon accused the Reason editors of "shanking" the interview by selectively editing the video in favor of "banter and quick reposite", and sacrificing context and complete arguments to the extent that the interview seems "incoherent." In response to Simon's comments Reason has posted the full 1 hour 20 minute audio of the interview. (direct link to mp3 audio)
posted by mediated self (21 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Man, that interview is a hard read. The Reason interviewer just seems to have brought a bag-full of boilerplate libertarian tropes and just keeps shoving them into the conversation no matter what.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:46 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm a lefty and agree with many of David Simon's political stances. I also loved THE WIRE and like and enjoy TREME, but honestly he seems exhaustively self-righteous and more than a bit of a scolding gas bag when I see him in the media. It's a shame.
posted by diabolik at 2:46 PM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


In his own way, David Simon is a genius; in his own way, he's more entitled than others to be an egomaniac. Egomaniacs will not take kindly to having 75% of their interview shaved away. This isn't misbehavior by Reason Magazine in any sense; I don't see any evidence that Simon was misrepresented. However, it is a pretty good invitation to think about the ways that journalistic conventions, which more typically shave away 99% -- not 75% -- of what everyone says, serve to create accurate or inaccurate representations of reality. There are a heck of a lot of people who'd like a platform in a national magazine and who would be grateful for 25% of what they say to be unmediated.
posted by Mr. Justice at 2:58 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I gotta say that Simon sounds pretty reasonable here. I was expected entitled gasbaggery, and he's just saying: "Don't judge the arguments by this pale shadow they made. Longer elaborations can be found elsewhere." He admits fault.

I've given enough bad interviews to know what that's like, so maybe I'm being over-sympathetic, but this looks like a non-troversy.
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:07 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


As I'm doing a marathon binge of Sorkin's The Newsroom this weekend (just now starting episode 5), this post makes me wonder what a similar series written by Simon would be like.

Hell, now I want to see that series.
posted by hippybear at 3:18 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


selectively editing the video in favor of "banter and quick reposite", and sacrificing context and complete arguments to the extent that the interview seems "incoherent."

Isn't that just video editing?
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 3:19 PM on September 23, 2012


The editing is terrible and probably caused by trying to discuss so many topics through the lens of a few themes and David Simon's career. One moment it's about the Wire, then there's this harsh discussion about how American newsrooms have been affected by constant downsizing, and suddenly a jump to Treme?

But I love David Simon's passion and commitment, and that he doesn't let bullshit fly.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:35 PM on September 23, 2012


As I'm doing a marathon binge of Sorkin's The Newsroom this weekend (just now starting episode 5), this post makes me wonder what a similar series written by Simon would be like.

Hell, after the glimpses of Baltimore politics from the Wire, I'd love to see a Simon version of the West Wing.

Though, the best series of all would be a collaboration between Sorkin and Simon. Idealism and earnestness vs. cynicism and realism. Assuming they didn't kill each other, the end result would be an interesting mix.
posted by honestcoyote at 3:36 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Though, the best series of all would be a collaboration between Sorkin and Simon.

Simon's ability to do complex plotting and realistic characters and Sorkin's snappy dialog and gift for pacing.

I'd be all over that. How do we get them to sit down and have dinner and discuss this?
posted by hippybear at 3:45 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Reposite"?
posted by RogerB at 3:46 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isn't that just video editing?

Yeah, and Simon acknowledges as much in his blogpost. But there is the additional element of ideological bent since Reason is a Libertarian publication and much of the video seems like "David Simon vs. Libertarianism". Fifteen minutes into the unedited interview audio Simon asks, "Was this interview supposed to be about Treme? Because I didn't want to argue political philosophies with a libertarian publication."

"Reposite"?

Original typo in Simon's blog post, I'm almost certain he meant "riposte".
posted by mediated self at 3:52 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Newswire

Political Suicide:Life on the Romney Campaign

The White Wire
posted by lordaych at 3:54 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


hippybear: "Hell, now I want to see that series."

SNOOP: How my hair look, Mike?
MIKE: Beautiful.
SNOOP: Can you be more specific?
MIKE: I'm sorry?
SNOOP: I'm saying the composition, the lustre, the -
MIKE: - the shine?
SNOOP: - Yes, the shine, I'm saying, how do you think my hair looks?
MIKE: (Beat) I can't even shoot you now.
SNOOP: I figured.
posted by Apropos of Something at 4:05 PM on September 23, 2012 [20 favorites]


Glad I could listen to the whole thing. I follow Simon and he was quite right, the interviewer tried to make the interview what he wanted it to be rather than what it was. I agree with Simon about a lot of things and enjoy his work.

I'd love to see more of his work in the form of a show about the fate and possible reincarnation of the daily paper. All I gather from Simon is that he believes a fatal flaw was built into the model for funding papers with advertising while "giving away" the news and early online models didn't correct that flaw, consequently, cannot support professional news reporting.

Once the city desk is lost and the institutional memory is gone, there is no more reliable local news. He says the blogosphere is not replace that with its thousand points of light. Where are the solutions? I would like to hear Simon expound on this topic.
posted by Anitanola at 4:44 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Was this interview supposed to be about Treme? Because I didn't want to argue political philosophies with a libertarian publication."

Umm... so why didn't you just say "no" to Reason then?
posted by Jahaza at 4:58 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Umm... so why didn't you just say "no" to Reason then?

Probably because Treme is debuting it's 3rd season (tonight I believe) and just had to fight hard to get a 4th half-season so it could wrap up its story arc, and any chance for Simon to get stuff about the series in front of a potential audience so they will watch it is worth his time.
posted by hippybear at 5:06 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Simon mentions in the unedited audio that he's been doing interviews to promote the new season of Treme for the last two weeks. He's already taken steps to get MeFites watching the show.
posted by mediated self at 5:28 PM on September 23, 2012


I gotta say that Simon sounds pretty reasonable here. I was expected entitled gasbaggery, and he's just saying: "Don't judge the arguments by this pale shadow they made. Longer elaborations can be found elsewhere." He admits fault.

Unlike the Reason editors, I am not a "great admirer[s] of his (David Simon's) work". The two seasons of 'The Wire' that I've seen bored me. I also agree, more often than not, with Reason's point of view. Still, I thought Simon's blog post struck just the right tone. He doesn't assume a malicious motive for the other party with little evidence. His complaint is specific, that his views are presented in a disjointed manner, and he takes the responsibility of providing his audience with a remedy, links to speeches where his views are presented with greater clarity. It's an excellent model of how to respond to a media outlet that has made a presentation which the subject finds disagreeable.
posted by BigSky at 7:08 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why would anyone give them an interview? Reason is...well, just the opposite.
posted by Miko at 8:59 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm glad that David Simon protested and that the original full-length interview was posted, because I watched the final interview the other day and found it very odd. In the finished version, there are some bits where David Simon comes across as strange - paranoid, maybe - because he doesn't seem to be responding to what the interviewer is saying. It didn't seem to be doing credit to how thoughtful his positions actually are...

One of the things that Reason edited out was the part where David Simon talks about early labour history. I wonder why? It's pretty interesting. I might suggest that libertarians can get a bit odd about unions and generally present them in a fairly one-sided way - they tend to see them as a means of coercing employers, rather than a free association of individuals to resist the coercive power of employers. I wonder if Reason didn't want to dwell on the abuses and social failures that spurred people to unionise in the first place, because they show that the "free markets" that Reason stands for don't always work out so well. Or maybe they just wanted to focus on Simon's TV work. I don't know.
posted by lucien_reeve at 1:37 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I should note that David Simon actually says - a little crossly, a little wearily - that he doesn't want to get drawn into a political discussion, on the grounds that he doesn't think that an interview is a good format for convincing anyone or exploring those ideas.

So maybe they left that material out just because they felt it reflected his desire to use the interview to promote Treme, rather than fight over whether or not libertarianism is right (or, as he says, a "very indulged, very selfish" philosophy).
posted by lucien_reeve at 1:44 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


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