The Globe and Mail has joined the Toronto Star in the campaign against the controversial Ford brothers, Mayor Rob Ford and Doug Ford, councillor for Ward 2, Etobicoke North. The two municipal politicians are bringing more eyeballs to newspapers and television than any local story that’s been in the news for some time.
But reports on Rob Ford’s play-by-his-own-rules behaviour and character had been selling papers for the Toronto Star even before he took the mayor’s chair. Come to think of it, maybe it was the paper’s position that helped to get him elected as Torontonians flocked to the polls to throw their support behind him. Ford was elected by the largest number of votes gained by any previous mayor of this city.
The most recent and most outrageous claim against the mayor alleges that a video recording exists showing him smoking an illegal substance, commonly being described as crack cocaine, and making derogatory remarks about the high school students he coached in football and about Justin Trudeau, recently elected leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
Now, even more disturbing allegations have landed in print. A Globe and Mail investigative report alleges that Doug Ford sold hashish in his youth and other Ford siblings were involved in drug use, kidnapping and with White supremacists.
As with the Star’s story of a videotape which only two Star reporters and someone from a U.S. gossip website claimed to have seen, the Globe’s story is based totally on interviews with unidentified sources.
It looks as if the newspaper wars are back on and the Ford family is the subject of choice this time around. Mainstream newspapers haven’t been doing that well financially in recent times and the Fords, especially Mayor Rob, seem to be the gift that keeps on giving.
Not to be left out, television news is also cashing in. The hive of cameras that follow the mayor as he traverses the corridors of city hall would be more than most everyday people could bear. It is beginning to look less and less like news reporting and more like some kind of new reality show.
If the people elected to manage public affairs are involved in illegal or discreditable behaviour then the public has a right to know. That is a trust given to news reporters. However, what have so far been amassed against the Fords suggest only that we take the word of a couple of reporters whose stories, while they may show some smoke, seem totally absent of fire. The so-called videotaped evidence in question, like the mystery of who really killed U.S. President John F. Kennedy, may never truly be deemed to be conclusive. Even if it ever gets to air, there will still be questions about its authenticity.
Those who have faith in what Ford is trying to do at city hall, reducing fiscal waste and holding the line on taxes, are deeply suspicious of the kind of reports that continue to dog this mayor. In fact, a recent poll shows that support for Rob Ford has not budged. His constituents are loyal to him and are convinced that it is downtown Toronto elites, the news media and the far-left who couldn’t beat him at the polls who continue to try to undermine his administration.
It is doubtful that Ford’s supporters will desert him. After all, he is not being criticized for the job he is doing, he is being attacked for his personality, his general awkwardness, possibly his weight and his trademark curtness in responding to media questions. Media types don’t like that.
Ford, of course, could end (or reduce) the hysteria by talking to the media. Do as brother Doug did last week after the Globe’s story ran. Stand up and face the media’s questions. He doesn’t have to answer questions he doesn’t want to answer. Yes. No. I don’t know. I answered that already, but here is my answer again. Stand there until they get tired and saunter off one by one. Don’t move. Then when they are done, he can ask them if they want to question him about his agenda.
His running away from them is only going to keep them engaged.