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Influencers Transcript: David Simon, October 24, 2019

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ANDY SERWER: Influence isn't just about making a name for yourself. It's about making a statement. On that score, TV writer and producer David Simon is second to none. Simon is best known for creating the HBO hit "The Wire," which ran for five critically-acclaimed seasons in the mid-2000s. His other shows include "Treme," "Show Me a Hero," and most recently, "The Deuce," starring James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Simon won an Emmy in 2000 and has been nominated for many more since. He's here to talk about how streaming has rocked the television industry and how to use your work and life to say things that matter.

Hello, everyone. I'm Andy Serwer, and welcome to "Influencers." And welcome to our guest, David Simon, award-winning showrunner, producer, creator, reporter. TV shows including "Homicide," "The Wire," "Generation Kill," "Show Me A Hero," "Treme," and now "The Deuce." David, great to see you.

DAVID SIMON: Great, glad to be back.

ANDY SERWER: So I know you have a new show. We want to talk about that. But "The Deuce" is on right now on HBO. So let's start by talking about "The Deuce"-- the final season right now, season three. So what were you trying to say here with "The Deuce?"

DAVID SIMON: We backed into a story about the rise of pornography, legal pornography, in American life. We didn't want to do a porn show. And we got dragged into a room with a guy who had been at the center-- the center of, basically, the world of Times Square from the early '70s on. And after listening to the stories for a while, my co-writer and I-- George Pelecanos-- we excused ourselves from the meeting after a couple of hours listening to them, and we took a walk around the block. We pretended to go smoke a cigarette, though neither one of us smoke. And we looked at each other and said, my god, we have to do a porn story.

It was a labor story. I don't that that I don't think he knew what he was telling us, but what we were hearing was, this is a story about unencumbered capitalism and what happens when labor is not only devalued, but labor is, in effect, the product itself. And the idea of sex work as allegorical for a lot of what ails us as a society started becoming evident.

And so we had a chance to do that, and then the trick was, can we do this with compelling characters? Can we can we find a narrative structure that works, that captures that run of Times Square when it was not what it is today and, you know, it was no longer the Great White Way. It was, I would say, from the 1970s to 1985 was probably the heyday. So those are the three seasons, covering that period.

ANDY SERWER: Right.

DAVID SIMON: And we're coming to the end of the run, and we're pretty proud of it. You know, a lot of people when they encountered it as an idea, they thought, man, this sounds gratuitous. But in fact, I think when it comes to things like sexual commodification, and gender issues, and, really, downright misogyny, I think this is some of the most grown-up stuff we've ever gotten on into any of our shows. We're pretty proud of it.

ANDY SERWER: So I just ticked off a bunch of shows that you've done, and you know, this one's different. They're all kind of different. Some of them are the same. Some of them are more different than others. And I'm wondering, you know, we're about the same age, hitting 60 and all that. You've got this body of work. Looking back at it, what does it say? Do you think about your collective body of work?

DAVID SIMON: Yeah, I mean, in the beginning, no, but as you start to get into a career of things, you start thinking, man, I only have so many years. What am I putting on the shelf? And we tend to go to projects that you're not going to see them on TV unless we chase them. Or even if you think you're gonna see a cop show, you're not going see a critique of the drug war within a cop show. Even if we're doing what seems to be a piece about a war, young men at war, in "Generation Kill," the critique of modern warfare, the political imprecision of it, the lack of forethought is not really what you see addressed in a lot of war stories.

So we're always chasing something with the premise of, man, if we don't make this, it's not going to get made. I mean I think the ultimate example of that was we did a piece in Yonkers on public housing policy and on why we're a hyper-segregated society, and six hours of housing policy in Yonkers, New York. I mean, you know, it's not-- you know, if we're not bringing that, I don't know who is. So you know, if it's not out there, it has our attention, in a weird way.

ANDY SERWER: So do your shows intentionally take a while to get into? Because I've I tried to get-- for instance, my daughter, for instance, younger people, and sometimes, they have a harder time [INAUDIBLE].

DAVID SIMON: They don't [INAUDIBLE] in the beginning. Yeah, they're like--

ANDY SERWER: Why is that?

DAVID SIMON: Well, I mean, know from going back to "The Wire," but even "The Corner," I guess, we were-- I come from the world of narrative nonfiction, of prose writing. And I wrote a couple of books, and I'm aware of what the first chapters of a book are supposed to do. They're probably not what a hit television show is supposed to do. You know, you're looking at somebody who's had a 20-year run not having an audience. So you know, if you're looking for somebody to explain to you how to have a successful television show, you're looking in the wrong place.

ANDY SERWER: Well, I don't think that's quite, right but--

DAVID SIMON: I'm not being-- I mean, what I'm looking for is when you get to the last hour of the show, the last 20 minutes of something that's run for-- whether it's run for five seasons, three seasons, six episodes-- when you look back at the first 10 minutes, the first 10 minutes make perfect sense in the way that, in a good novel, the first chapters are there for a reason, you know?

You're not necessarily being given the full statement of theme. The characters aren't fully developed. The journey hasn't been stated, in most cases. But those first chapters are the beginning of world-building and the beginning of a deliberation about character, and theme, and content that, when you look at what happens in those first paragraph of a good book, choices were made, and they make sense at the end.

So if I get you, and you go all the way, then I think you come back and you look it, and you say, this is resonant, and I can watch this again if I want, and I'm going to see things I didn't-- which, we get a lot of re-watch. But what we don't get is a mass audience going, man, this thing crackles-- from the jump-- and I gotta see what happens next week. I'm pretty miserable at doing that.

ANDY SERWER: That's really interesting, that there is the intention. But you're so right that you get drawn in in a way I think that other shows don't draw you in. And it's interesting that there's sort of the long-- you're playing the long game.

DAVID SIMON: You know, I mean listen, I came up in TV. I learned on "Homicide," which was episodic. It's an incredibly well-written episodic drama, but it was 22 separate episodes a season. It was, you know, you're chasing-- you're doing "Dubliners," you know? You're not chasing "Ulysses." You know, it's like it's not a singular, it's a series of short stories tied together, tethered together, with characters that more or less go on. And what we're structuring here is singular stories over the course of a season or, in some respects, over a multi-season.

ANDY SERWER: Right. So shifting gears a little bit, David, you've had this great run at HBO.

DAVID SIMON: Yeah.

ANDY SERWER: I want to ask, you what the heck's going on at HBO? New owner, AT&T-- how are you feeling about things? What does the company look like?

DAVID SIMON: Well, it's all above my pay grade. And the truth is, I'm out-- you know, we've been shooting two things simultaneously this last year-- prepping it, shooting it. Now we're in post on the last one. And so I'm not-- you know, I'm not hanging around the office-- I don't have an office there. But I haven't I've been in and out of meetings at the same rate I might otherwise.

So I don't know. I work for a phone company, now, that is [INAUDIBLE].

ANDY SERWER: So do I.

DAVID SIMON: That--

ANDY SERWER: Right here, Verizon owns us.

DAVID SIMON: There you go.

ANDY SERWER: We're in the same boat.

DAVID SIMON: So they've been-- as far as I'm concerned, they've been benign in the sense that I've encountered-- you know, I'm on existing projects that were green-lit before. The truth will be next year. I got stuff in development. We'll see what they want me to do, and then I'll know.

As somebody who's been a vendor there since '98, everybody I started working with in '98-- all the department heads, all the bosses-- have turned over. There's nobody-- I'm trying to think of anybody. The last few people were out the door this year. So I'm looking around, the same as anybody, you know?

ANDY SERWER: Yeah, it's a different world. So let me ask you about Netflix. And you know, they've had an incredible run, and I remember, and you remember, when Jeff Duke, who's the CEO of Time Warner, called them, what, the Albanian army or something like, disparagingly. And they sure ain't that anymore. Do you think they're gonna continue to be successful?

DAVID SIMON: Yeah. I mean, listen, they're flooding the market with content. And I don't understand the model, but that's not-- that's not a rap on them. I don't understand the model. You know, I'm a-- a long, long time ago, I went into journalism, and I was a police reporter from Baltimore. So that I don't understand a mass communications model in the digital age is no great insult to anybody.

But I don't know-- the revenue stream, and how you get people to watch your content overall, and where the money comes from eludes me. And in some respects, it's not just Netflix. It does in every sense. I mean, I understood cable bundling. When I get to HBO, that seemed to be the lion's share what they're doing.

Now everyone's got their own platform, and how you pull people to that platform is either library, or buzz, or having a hit. And in some respects, Netflix is trying to do, I think, really rely on the library model. Maybe they're right, but it seems like it's an incredible amount of production in terms of money. I'm astounded by how much they're spending on content.

ANDY SERWER: And let me ask you about this sort of peak content issue. I mean, there's so many shows. You started out, there were, you know, a few quality shows on TV, all at HBO, basically. Now, it's everywhere. It's so ubiquitous, pervasive. What does that say, and how sustainable is it? What is it like being a consumer of that?

DAVID SIMON: I don't know. I'm not much of a consumer of it. Like, people have to tell me, listen, I watched all three seasons of this. It was really good. They had a point. They knew where they were going. They got there. And then, same as anyone else, I'll start streaming it. But I don't actually keep up with the first seasons of everything.

ANDY SERWER: I mean, is there too much out there?

DAVID SIMON: Well, you know, I don't know how anyone's getting to all of it. And in some respects, I don't think anybody has to get to all of it. How you sift through it is interesting to me. I don't know how you find the good. I mean, it's gotta be word of mouth. It's gotta be buzz. It's gotta be the critical acclaim, such as there's still an organized pool of critics-- which has also, you know, been, in some way, abstracted.

But looking at it, I just feel like there's so much more, but if you looked at the percentages of dross to quality, I think they're probably about the same as when there were three networks, you know? Or three networks and Fox. I mean, I think there was-- you know, there was an awful lot of bad TV before there wasn't this, you know, vast diaspora of television drama. I think probably, there's more good, and there's more mediocre.

ANDY SERWER: Yeah, It's interesting.

DAVID SIMON: There's just more.

ANDY SERWER: Because people to talk about all the great shows on Netflix, but if you actually look at Netflix, the great shows are there, but then there's dozens, scores of other shows that you never heard of that aren't any good.

DAVID SIMON: And I mean, you know, not that it's helped me find a mass audience right away. I mean, again, usually, people find our shows when they're on the shelf and done. But HBO, the one thing I've always been indulged by is they want your show, the billboards go up, the promos start happening, the ads start running. You know, they get behind the shows that they do do.

Like, if you're on the air, if they're putting you on the air, that means something to them, and they had a publicity dynamic that was really aggressive. And you know, I look at some of what's happening with streaming now, and you know, Netflix will drop a show, and it'll be like, I didn't see anything.

ANDY SERWER: Yeah, right, right.

DAVID SIMON: It's just like, you know, they just drop 'em, and find 'em if you will, you know?

ANDY SERWER: Right, that's true. Tell us about "The Plot Against America," which is, of course, your new show, based on a Philip Roth novel--

DAVID SIMON: Yeah.

ANDY SERWER: --where Charles Lindbergh, the aviator hero, becomes a fascist president of the United States. And I read that you talked to Roth about it, which sounds like an incredible conversation. I mean, he died in 2018.

DAVID SIMON: I had one meeting with the man, and it was about an hour and 45 minutes, and it was-- it went well, but I mean, I have to say, I walked in, and I had the immediate sensibility that, oh my god, I just walked into Philip Roth's apartment. Oh my god, I'm talking to Philip Roth. Oh my god, you know, I just tried to make a joke. Oh my god, he sort of laughed, you know?

I really-- like, the first 20 minutes were taken up by me trying to get my head around the fact that, you know, I was having a meeting with Philip Roth-- because, again, one of the great voices in American literature. And it happened to be on the-- well, it happened to be on the day after they awarded the last Nobel for literature. They skipped a year after that.

So I remember I felt the need to say something, because he had not won, and was an English writer. And I felt the need, you know, being a guy from Baltimore who can't shut his mouth, I'll make a joke about it. And I said-- right at the door, I said, who's this guy with your prize? And without missing a beat, he said, well, at least they didn't give it to Peter, Paul, and Mary-- because he was a year out from the Bob Dylan award, and he was-- I don't think that made him happy.

But he had very distinct ideas about certain things that shouldn't happen, or should happen. He had a couple of casting choices that we, you know, tried to honor, but it didn't work out for whatever reason, and he had some very precise notes about what the novel was and wasn't. They were very smart.

And then I went, and I was trying to get, at least, permission to play with a couple of things-- which, I felt the need, because again, it's Philip Roth. So it was an interesting meeting all around. So obviously, we're doing the piece because of Trump, you know? The idea of a demagogic populist who-- untethered from the old, you know, party system, who promises-- has a simple, fundamental message that appeals in the most basic way.

With Lindbergh, in that book, it's peace and prosperity. I'll keep you out of World War II. I'll keep you out of Europe, out of the next European war. And a sense of the other in American life. In that book, it's American Jewry, American Jews, that are the worrisome other that he uses as kindling for a dry run at fascism.

And now, we're-- you know, there's a very simple message that Trump used effectively to outrun the party system, and now there's the other is people of color-- immigrants, people who are not white, people who are not straight, people who are, you know, a little bit off of what a previous generation of Americans might have called normal, white America, you know?--

ANDY SERWER: Right.

DAVID SIMON: --and all of that phrase entails. So there's a real reason to do "Plot Against America" now, as a mini-series. On the other hand, one of the things he said was, don't mistake Donald Trump for Charles Lindbergh.

Because Lindbergh, in his day, was-- it was like Neil Armstrong times 10. You know, from having flown the Atlantic, to being the lone eagle in that little plane, his sheepish Midwestern looks, you know, he was beloved. And so he came in, not with the cachet of being a reality TV star and a casino owner, or a real estate guy, but being a genuine American hero. So--

ANDY SERWER: Right.

DAVID SIMON: It gives you pause. I mean, what if what if Trump actually had more charisma and more--

ANDY SERWER: More charisma?

DAVID SIMON: More charisma. Yeah, maybe it doesn't work on me, but I feel like-- I feel like he's paper-thin. I mean, what if this guy really was adept at wielding power?

ANDY SERWER: Yeah.

DAVID SIMON: The amount of damage that, you know, a demagogue can do.

ANDY SERWER: How did we-- how did we get here, David? I mean, the political divisiveness, income and wealth inequality, President Trump-- we're at this moment in time, aren't we?

DAVID SIMON: Yeah I think-- I think truth has been devalued in the most incredible way. You know, I come from journalism, and journalism was effectively hollowed out and corporatized. And I think in some respects, it went off the books into social media. The lies that you can effectively tell in a mass communications model, off the books, on unregulated social media, go around the world three times before mainstream media can get its books up-- can get its boots on.

And that's a new phenomenon. That's-- you know, what ii-- what if Goebbels had had the capacity to sidestep, you know, even the world press on a daily basis, to completely sidestep the world press? How much further might that message have traveled unimpeded? And we're in that point, of untried, untested waters.

ANDY SERWER: Let me ask you about Twitter and Facebook a little more. I mean, you have this love-hate relationship, though, with Twitter. You must. I mean, you're on Twitter. They've thrown you off.

DAVID SIMON: Yeah

ANDY SERWER: Right?

DAVID SIMON: And then I got back on just to yell at them, and now they haven't thrown me off again. I secretly hope they will, because then, like--

ANDY SERWER: Yeah.

DAVID SIMON: But Twitter, to me, is just--

ANDY SERWER: I mean, you call them idiots. You say the people who run it are idiots.

DAVID SIMON: They are.

ANDY SERWER: Why?

DAVID SIMON: I mean-- I mean, it's very complicated, but effectively, what they choose to police is meaningless, and what they are incapable of policing because they have no-- they have no newsroom. They have no ethical-- there's no ethical strand that is tethered to truth as a value. And what they fail to police is ruining the world. Not just them, but, you know, Facebook and everything else.

I mean, you know, the simple vulgarities and obscenities-- or, you know mere sarcasm that they'll chase and run down with great vigor mean nothing, you know? But the idea that you can slander somebody, or slander a cause, or slander the whole people is a matter of routine. And that's fair comment and doesn't need any interpretation or any interposition.

And I'm not even talking about censoring it. I'm talking about delivering a definitive statement that this is false, as anybody at a mainstream news organization would, or should. It's an incredible model for disinformation.

ANDY SERWER: Yeah, I mean, it's kind of nonsensical that there's nothing we can do about lying, and fake things. And who are we to decide? I mean, it's just a platform, right?

DAVID SIMON: Right, right. We're just a bulletin board.

ANDY SERWER: Right.

DAVID SIMON: Pay no attention to our role in this.

ANDY SERWER: We know we make a lot of money, and we have incredibly high margins, but--

DAVID SIMON: Yeah, but you can post anything here.

ANDY SERWER: Right.

DAVID SIMON: It doesn't matter. You know, I mean, the thing that-- the moment that I got thrown off, somebody was conjuring a ridiculous conspiracy theory utilizing the death of a friend of mine, Tony Bourdain, for a ridiculous conspiracy. And all I wanted to do was say, this is an affront. This is a human affront, what you're doing here. And yet, I was kicked off for making a light mother joke about some bot, about some bot's non-existent mother, you know? Like, sorry, I can't get on there to actually address this because I have to apologize to a Russian bot because I've said something naughty about his mother.

ANDY SERWER: Right. That's crazy.

DAVID SIMON: Such as this mother is.

ANDY SERWER: Right. Let me drill down a little bit more with regards to President Trump. I mean, just very simply, do you support impeachment?

DAVID SIMON: I do, on the same premise that a lot of people are now saying it, which is, whether it's successful or not, whether it's politically viable or not, there is an ethic of how you have to behave and what rules have to apply if the American republic is going to survive. If you say, this doesn't merit the response of the other branch of government to assert for the Constitution and for what the Constitution says fundamentally, then that document's meaningless and the construct, the checks and balances of the republic, have been rendered moot. So whether you win or lose, you have to have a fight.

I mean a hero of mine from when I wanted to be a newspaperman was IF Stone. And he had this great quote. I'll never forget it. He said, you know, sometimes the fights that you have that are the most important are the ones you know you're not gonna win. Now, I don't know what the outcome of an impeachment inquiry is. You know, when they went in on Nixon in the '70s and Watergate, when they began the inquiry, most people were against impeachment. By the time the evidence was laid out in front of the Ervin Committee, the American populace had been transformed in their awareness of what you know how criminal that that investigation had become in terms of the administration.

So who knows what's going to happen? But let's assume that McConnell in the Senate bottles it up, and it becomes a vote into nowhere. It nonetheless preserves the idea that there are standards, that the republic has to have standards and certain things have to be upheld and argued for. And if you stop arguing for them, they will cease to exist.

ANDY SERWER: So speaking of the 1970s and wanting to be a reporter, we grew up together.

DAVID SIMON: We did.

ANDY SERWER: And were on the same high school newspaper together.

DAVID SIMON: "The Tattler."

ANDY SERWER: "The Tattler," right, exactly. The Bethesda Chevy Chase--

DAVID SIMON: It sounds so inconsequential, but I like to think it was one of the finer high school papers in the country.

ANDY SERWER: Particularly at a certain point in time.

DAVID SIMON: Yes, yes, [INAUDIBLE].

ANDY SERWER: So you always wanted to be a reporter. Do you ever put yourself on the couch and ask why?

DAVID SIMON: It's-- you know, listen. My dad was a journalism major at Columbia and had a brief fling with newspapers-- "Hudson County Dispatch." And then he ended up going into the Army, and when he came out, he had a kid, and he went into public relations. And it like never-- he didn't have that feet up on the desk in the newsroom, you know, ink-stained wonderment, you know, front page LB Johnson moment.

But he definitely inoculated me to all of the-- I mean, I was-- I grew up in a house with all the newspapers-- "Washington Star," "Washington Post," "New York Times on Sunday," all the magazines, and argument, argument, argument. You know, New Deal lefty Jews, you know, five of us at the dinner table, seven opinions.

And that's how you got attention. That's how you got validated, was arguing current events and reading current events. So I think there was something inevitable about me going into the newspapers. And I had no cause to regret it until newspapers started running away from their own product.

ANDY SERWER: Right. You had a great career at "The Baltimore Sun." Baltimore, still, you live there part-time and you were recently defending your city from President Trump, who is warring with Elijah Cummings. And yet, David, I looked at "The Baltimore Sun." They have this graphic that keeps track of the murders there, which is something you know so much about and so well. And--

DAVID SIMON: They've lost-- they've lost control.

ANDY SERWER: 273 murders now, so we're on pace to get 300 murders a year again.

DAVID SIMON: Mm-hmm.

ANDY SERWER: And the population is much less. So--

DAVID SIMON: It's one of the most dangerous cities in America.

ANDY SERWER: What can we do about it? What can--

DAVID SIMON: Well, I mean there's-- let's be honest about the fact that there are two Americas, and one of them predominates in the imagination. Which is to say, there's three places in America where the rules of post-industrial economics don't apply-- New York, LA, and Washington. Those are unique economies.

New York is the world financial capital, the cultural capital of the country. The 30, 40-year run up on Wall Street has bricked over all of the problems of urbanity that the rest of America is dealing with. This is one of the safest cities in America per capita. And you gotta-- you gotta go way out into the outer boroughs to find trouble, at this point. I mean, there's just so much money that it's become a playground for the rich.

Washington is also inured because it's got the federal budget, and the federal dynamic, and the influx of, you know, fresh money every four years, you know? Washington's economy is unique. And the west of LA-- I mean, I'm not speaking the east of LA-- but you know, the west, you know, west of the 101, is an industry that I've had a little bite of which is recession-proof.

ANDY SERWER: And San Francisco, too-- the Bay Area.

DAVID SIMON: Yeah, that's right.

ANDY SERWER: And that as well.

DAVID SIMON: That's right. I mean, yeah. I mean, yeah, you have to go out way into East Bay to start finding problems. And then you have all the rest of the cities, which are contending with the post-industrial world. And some of them have found their way better than others. And you know, things have gone wrong in Baltimore that have to do with economic choices made early on.

Things have gone wrong in terms of the level of drug use. It became predominant in this 1970s heroin, and then cocaine, and speedballs intravenous. It was-- the levels of drug use were astonishing. They were-- if you look at the DAWN statistics The levels of education in the city-- it was a city that relied on those union jobs-- on Beth Steel, on the port, on, you know, a high school education, and you were set for life-- until you weren't.

So it did not-- you know, like Pittsburgh did, I think, did very well, a city near us. It did very well, doesn't have the same levels of under-education and drug abuse. And you know, Baltimore is having an existential crisis. But the other thing is just on a practical level, the police department lost control. They-- it was badly led, and it was misused, actually, by politicians to fight the drug war to the last arrest.

And when you do that, you actually forget how to do police work. And, you know, to solve a murder, to prevent the next murder from happening, it's hard work. You actually have to do police work. And they taught a generation of cops just to go in guys' pockets and make money that way.

ANDY SERWER: Still have those problems. Speaking of politics, shifting back to the national scene a little bit and the Democrats, are they shooting themselves in the foot? They look bifurcated, maybe going to the left? Any ideas on who you'd support, or where you think this will go?

DAVID SIMON: I mean, I've been speaking well of Warren for a long time now. This is all I care about, which is, I think it's important to choose who you want in the primary. The idea of, like, gauging electability in the general election now as a means of curtailing-- I think that has a bad effect on the democratic platform. I think it drives you to places where ideas are being curtailed, argument is being curtailed.

And I believe in that. I believe that primaries are a place for the better arguments to prevail. And to that extent, somebody like Bernie, whatever you think of Bernie, has deeply influenced the democratic ideal of what is possible. He certainly has made the word "socialism" plausible again on the American political spectrum. How plausible, I don't know.

ANDY SERWER: Yeah.

DAVID SIMON: But it's-- you know, you can say it. You can say it without having to redefine yourself in the next sentence. But I do get pissed off as a lifelong Democrat who doesn't want another four years of this administration. If there is a way to do it, to advance your own arguments, your own credibility, your own viability as a candidate, without tearing out the guy next to you-- or having your supporters tear out the guy next to you-- and not creating a path that is the inevitable path that the Republicans will then use against whoever gets it, you know?

For Bernie to run against Hillary was grand. For Bernie to try to have his ideas and his candidacy prevail over Hillary was grand. For his supporters to transform her into something as-- and not all of them did, but to have the extremity of rhetoric get to the point where, in order to exalt Bernie, she must be, you know, some rightist, warmongering-- you know, I mean she was a centrist.

ANDY SERWER: Right.

DAVID SIMON: Center, somewhat left. She wasn't as progressive as Bernie by any means. You know, she was-- there were plenty of reasons to critique her, but it was going to come down to a binary choice between her and this nightmare. And I think there's something incumbent on all the Democratic candidates, to leave that fundamental choice standing, incredible, at the end, no matter who wins.

And so I sort of attempt-- you know, if I see somebody savaging somebody else more than advancing their own arguments, I get alienated from it. I'm like, you know, shame on you-- because the stakes are high.

ANDY SERWER: David Simon, thanks so much for joining us.

DAVID SIMON: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

ANDY SERWER: You've been watching "Influencers." I'm Andy Serwer. We'll see you next time.