This final season of the show, Simon told me, will be about “perception versus reality”—in particular, what kind of reality newspapers can capture and what they can’t. Newspapers across the country are shrinking, laying off beat reporters who understood their turf. More important, Simon believes, newspapers are fundamentally not equipped to convey certain kinds of complex truths. Instead, they focus on scandals—stories that have a clean moral. “It’s like, Find the eight-hundred-dollar toilet seat, find the contractor who’s double-billing,” Simon said at one point. “That’s their bread and butter. Systemic societal failure that has multiple problems—newspapers are not designed to understand it.”
Is that why the New York Times could suggest, in October 2005, that Mr. Ratner is creating a new and finely detailed modern blueprint for how to nourish - and then harvest - public and community backing?
Note that New York magazine's Chris Smith, instead, concluded in August 2006: What at first seemed to me impressive on a clinical level—a developer’s savvy use of state-of-the-art political tactics—ends up being, on closer inspection, positively chilling.