The Wire Final Season

Week 5: What, If Anything, Will Be Templeton's Undoing?
Talking television.
Feb. 4 2008 5:11 PM

The Wire Final Season

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Dear David,

Excellent point. And very liberal. It is true most young black men in the inner city do not sling drugs, even when the opportunity avails itself, and even when the economic rationale for doing so is overwhelming. There is, as you point out, a whole other world of bleakness, of black men who stay out of the drug trade but find themselves in dead-end jobs at Popeyes and Foot Locker. But here's another point: Many black men, even some who were raised in conditions of West Baltimore poverty and taught by indifferent teachers in crappy schools, wind up not merely managing a Popeyes but managing mutual funds at T. Rowe Price on the Inner Harbor or practicing medicine at Johns Hopkins. The Wire is meant to dramatize the inner city, and we can't fault it for its tight focus, but some things are left out. Taken in isolation, The Wire suggests that life in black America is unrelievedly grim. For many people, it is, but for many others, it simply isn't.

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Alert reader and Slate contributor Emily Yoffe writes to correct my too-short list of serial fabricators; she suggests USA Today's Jack Kelley as a worthy addition. She also corrects my earlier assertion that no fabricator had ever interfered in an ongoing criminal investigation. Emily writes, "Jayson Blair came down to DC in the middle of the sniper shootings and started making stuff up about the investigation. ... The prosecutors ended up having a press conference to denounce one Blair story as a total lie, but because they refused to say what was actually going on inside their office, the Times, for a time, took it as confirmation of Blair's superpowers."

I want to thank Emily for correcting my mistakes so promptly (does she do that to you, too?). She also makes an interesting point about what could be Templeton's undoing: "Don't you think that Templeton laid his own trap when he used the name of a random homeless guy as the terrified homeless father of four?" Yes, using the name of an actual live person for a fictional character did seem dumb. On the other hand, do we really think that Templeton will get caught? Hasn't David Simon made it abundantly clear that evil has triumphed at the Baltimore Sun? Templeton will probably end up winning the Pulitzer.

By the way, David, I've noticed very little commentary from you of late on the Sun subplot. Do you secretly love it and not want to share that fact with me?

Jeff

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for the Atlantic and the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror.

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