Watch President Obama Talk to David Simon About 'The Wire'

The president's fandom of the HBO series, and what it means for criminal justice.

It was the only event in Washington this week co-sponsored by the ACLU, Koch Industries, and Gingrich Productions. It was the only space where Attorney General Eric Holder told a joke about the ongoing Republican delays keeping him in his job—and then some of those same Republicans appeared, via video, talking up their own bills to reduce sentencing disparities. The Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform, an outgrowth of several left/right policy meetings, also ended with a special video conversation between President Barack Obama and the creator of The Wire, David Simon.

https://youtu.be/xWY79JCfhjw

 

The president is an avowed fan of the late, lamented HBO series. In 2012, he told Bill Simmons that his favorite character was Omar, the magical realist Robin Hood played by Michael K. Williams. Obama expanded on that with Simon, discussing every season of the show—"Perhaps one of the most moving sections of The Wire was that depiction of public schools"—and linking them to his administration's criminal justice reform pushes.

Simon wasn't present for the screening of the video. Earlier, in a speech to at conference's luncheon, Simon told activists and politicians that over-criminalization was wedded to shoddy police work, and to years of training that encouraged cops to focus on petty drug crime arrests.

"If you do that, you will get paid 30 or 40 times a month," he said. "You work that post to solve a rape, to put armed robberies together to solve them, to solve a murder, you might go to court once a month."

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