Reason TV Replay: David Simon on Treme, New Orleans, the Drug War, Obama, The Wire - And Disappointing Libertarians

The third season of HBO's Treme kicks off tonight, just days after producer David Simon (The Wire, Generation Kill) was told his New Orleans based drama will be given a fourth and final season to wrap up the series.

Simon recently sat down with Reason's Nick Gillespie to discuss the show's themes, the many issues facing the Crescent-City post-Katrina, and more. 

Here is the original text from the controversial video:

Updated September 21: On his personal website, David Simon has accused Reason TV of producing a "shanked" interview with him. For links to his criticism, our response, and full audio of our hour-and-20-minute-long conversation with him that formed the basis of this video, go here now.

"At some point during the run of The Wire, I became a fellow traveler of the libertarians," says the acclaimed writer and television producer David Simon. "And then a great disappointment to them."

A self-proclaimed "lefty," Simon is the creator of the The Wire, which ran on HBO from 2002 to 2008 and depicted with tragic realism the impact of the drug war on inner-city Baltimore. Over five seasons, The Wire told a series of complex, interwoven stories built around major themes of the modern American city, including the decline of the working waterfront, failing schools, faltering newspapers, the unseemly side of local politics, and, more generally, how bureaucratic institutions thwart reform-minded individuals.

In writing The Wire, Simon drew on his 13-years as a reporter at The Baltimore Sunand his 1991 book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, which is derived from Simon's stint as an embed with the Baltimore Police Department's homicide division. Producer Barry Levinson later turned the book into an Emmy-award-winning series that ran on NBC from 1993 to 1998.

Simon co-wrote (with David Mills) The Corner (2000), an HBO miniseries that depicts inner-city Baltimore ravaged by the drug trade, and he co-wrote HBO's Generation Kill, a miniseries based on a book by Evan Wright about a Marine Corps unit during the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Simon's blistering indictment of the drug war frames Eugene Jarecki's new documentary on the subject, The House I Live In, and he's an outspoken critic of the state of the newspaper industry. In 2009, Simon testified before the Senate Commerce Committee that shrinking newsrooms imperil our democracy.

HBO's Treme is Simon's latest project, which offers a multi-faceted look at post-Katrina New Orleans and the music scene that makes the city so unique. Treme's third season starts this Sunday on HBO.

Simon was last interviewed in Reason in 2004, and retired Baltimore homicide and narcotics detective Ed Burns, who was Simon's collaborator on The Wire and other projects, wasinterviewed in Reason in 2008.

Reason.com Editor in Chief Nick Gillespie sat down with Simon last week to discuss Treme, the state of New Orleans, the drug war, President Obama, school choice, private prisons, the newspaper industry, and Simon's antipathy towards libertarians.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • yonemoto||

    lets be honest here the scene cuts are really abrupt and grating. Much like a shanking.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Let's be honest here. Simon and Simon is a whining pussy for comparing some rough editing to a "shanking". Go fuck yourself in the ass with a shiv, Simon, you whining prison bitch.

  • sticks||

    Apparently he used shank as a golf term not stabbing.

    DAVID SIMON says:
    September 22, 2012 at 1:16 am
    Honestly, I meant the word shanked as a golf term. Not that they cut me, but they hooked the whole interview off the fairway. It’s in the rough. It’s just a waste of time and effort on everyone’s part, given the editing.

    http://davidsimon.com/omits-and-edits/#comments

  • RBS||

    EIther way he's still being a bitch. As someone pointed out in the other thread: if it takes you so long to make your argument you probably were not making such a great point after all.

  • juris imprudent||

    He is a "self proclaimed lefty", of course is argument is never going to make sense. He just teases libertarians by veering toward something we agree with and then jumping the tracks at the last second to demand MOAR GOVERNMENT as the solution.

  • manilauk||

    Actually he did't take it as serious as this matter deserved to be overcome. hp ink

  • Bill||

    Listen to the interview. He shanks it himself. He brings up shit, then doesn't want to discuss or defend it. Reason is a magazine about debate and political and economic analysis and he just wanted it to be a puff piece about his new season and still just throw any old leftist bullshit put there without being called on it.

  • ThomasD||

    Agreed, he positively could not stand that Nick offered a counter argument about the relative value of the number of people in any given newsroom, and so obviously went on the offensive. Then he doubles down with the absurd notion that it is only about 'covering the ground,' as if decisions about what constitutes ground worthy of coverage are not inherently political acts.

    Typical lefty arguments that completely ignore the fundamental effect of scarcity upon any human endeavor.

  • Paul.||

    This is exactly how I see it. He wanted to throw out some one-liners denigrating "the market" and then move onto the next question. Gillespie started blocking his shots and then Simon got miffed that he couldn't make show-pony three-pointers.

  • ||

    Hey, Nick called him a ballsack to his face.

    PWND

  • ||

    Really? At what point?

  • ||

    Click to about 5:05.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    If this were a just world, Gus Johnson would be calling the Lions game.

  • RBS||

    Gus Johnson calling football games is terrible. "...CARRIES FOR A 2YD GAIN!!!!!!!!!!"

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    and he's even more exciting on a long TD or Interception return.
    You can keep your Jim Nantz and his golf voice.

  • ||

    He's a grownup Nick. Did you know that? He's a grownup. He's a grownup. He's a grownup.

  • ||

    HA! That was priceless.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I never really got into Treme. In my defense, though, when it premiered I was still pretty NOLA'ed out.

  • ||

    I am glad the show is ending, in the hopes he moves on to something that would interest me.

    "The cuisine and music culture of post-Katrina New Orleans" makes my brain shut down.

  • Paul.||

    x2. Treme seemed like an overly-introspective character study about a bunch of people I didn't, and never would care about.

  • ||

    Why the fuck do we need to master city living?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    It's a necessary step in mastering the universe

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    ...aaaaaaaaaaand the Lions lose in a new and creative way. It's just like the old days! #WayToGoLions

  • Virginian||

    I'm a Skins fan. "Hey look the offense is actually putting up over 30 points a game. What's that? The defense is shitting the bed? So are special teams."

  • jason||

    It is a drug war between the drug lords and the federal forces, which costs so many fights.

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  • some guy666||

    Nick, shut the hell up and let him finish.

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