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Rob Ford vs. YouTube

One night on the town, three short videos and a torrent of criticism


 

TORONTO – The level of “social media paparazzi” surrounding Rob Ford is unprecedented, media and online experts say, as videos showing the Toronto mayor enjoying a night on the town have sparked renewed questions about his behaviour.

Three short videos posted online, one of which was titled “Mayor Rob Ford wants to party,” show the mayor at a street festival bantering with people who had surrounded him and were posing for pictures with him, taking photos and shooting video.

Within minutes the criticism started pouring in on Twitter, with many people accusing the mayor of being drunk and ridiculing his behaviour. Media outlets ran stories on the reaction the following day. One of the Ford videos was on YouTube’s main page for most of the weekend.

Greg Elmer, professor of new media at Toronto’s Ryerson University, said the lightning speed of the reaction doesn’t surprise him.

Elmer said that part of the problem is that the mayor has made a habit of taking pictures with everyone who requests it.

“Unfortunately it seems to be as though this is an individual who likes to show up and have a drink now and again apparently,” said Elmer, who has recently been researching controversial videos, photos and blog posts of celebrities or other public figures.

“That kind of behaviour has started to get him into more and more trouble.”

Ford told his weekly radio show on NewsTalk 1010 on Sunday that he had a couple of beers Friday night but contends videos that have sparked a torrent of criticism are being blown out of proportion.

“I had a good time, I let my hair down,” Ford said. “Did I have a couple beers? Absolutely I had a couple beers.”

“I drove myself down there, I was not drinking. I went out, had a few beers and I did not drive home. My people met me after that.”

In the videos, which were posted on YouTube by someone who goes by the handle Adrain Soso, the mayor can been seen saying “I’m not driving, I’m not driving.”

Peter Loewen, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto, said the mayor is receiving the high level of attention due to unresolved questions of an alleged video appearing to show Ford smoking crack cocaine.

Ford has denied he uses crack and said he can’t comment on a video that does not exist.

But once stories surfaced of a purported video, “the game changed for him,” said Loewen.

The gossip website Gawker was involved in a crowdsourcing campaign to raise $200,000 to buy the tape from a man who claimed to have the video.

Journalists from both Gawker and the Toronto Star say they were shown the video and the two outlets ran stories earlier this year.

Loewen said Ford hasn’t yet given “a credible explanation” on the issue.

The result, Loewen says, is now people recognize there’s an audience if they can get video of Rob Ford doing anything that might raise eyebrows, giving them a reason to videotape the mayor wherever he goes.

Elmer said this is a unique situation where the alleged crack video central to controversy surrounding Ford is missing, so instead there is a “cacophony” of images, reports, and blog posts all talking about the same kind of behaviour.

“It’s just kind of creating this whole economy of related images and stories and pictures,” Elmer said. “It’s unprecedented because it’s become an international story.”

There have been media reports in the past of Ford appearing intoxicated in public. In May the Toronto Star reported allegations that Ford showed up drunk at an official function. At the time Ford dismissed the report as nothing but “lies” and his brother added he’s never seen the mayor drink at any event.

In 2006, before Ford was mayor, he admitted he had too much to drink and verbally abused a couple at a Toronto Maple Leafs game after initially denying the incident.

In 2010, Ford recounted an incident from the 90’s where he was charged with driving under the influence and marijuana possession in Florida. Ford at first denied the allegations, but later pleaded no-contest to the impaired driving charge and the drug charge was dropped.

Ford isn’t the first politician whose private life has come under scrutiny.

The late Alberta premier Ralph Klein made headlines in 2001 after making degrading comments at a homeless shelter while allegedly drunk.

Although his staff denied Klein was drunk, the premier later admitted he had a drinking problem and promised to cut back, in stark contrast to the problems surrounding Ford.

“Klein owned up to what he did. He didn’t deny it,” Loewen said. “In this case you’ve got Rob Ford denying stuff all the way down the line.

“Any leeway that most citizens would have given to other politicians is now gone for Mayor Ford.”


 

Rob Ford vs. YouTube

  1. if it was the worst thing he’d ever done people would totally let it go. Since it’s pretty much the tip of the Ford iceberg he deserves the derision.

    • But Ford sure does better than liberal other peoples money for union and waste corruption. Toronto could easily become Detriot the way things are going if we let statism crack heads win.

      • your comment is ill-informed and incorrect.

      • You do realise that Harper practices statism too, don’t you? In fact all states practice statism, that’s kind of what it means.
        Those PMO talking points aren’t all they’re cracked up to be hey?

      • Detriot? I thought that it was spelled Detroit.

  2. Perhaps the Fords need defamation suits on liberal corrupt media slander.

    He liberals, union greedy and crack heads, show the proof to shut the f up. Time to call medias bluff. Fact is Fords did not bow to extortion and represent the good productive middle class.

    I for one would love to see liberal rags have to pay up or shut up.

    • Or defend themselves by using the defence of truth, that’s one alternative you didn’t mention.

    • And yet, mysteriously, they never do sue.
      Makes ya wonder, no? Makes ya wonder.

    • Never confuse no class with middle class. The Fords are a couple of rich kids that never grew up.

  3. I’d pick Ford over a big government demagogue like Mike Bloomturd any day of the week. I also find the criticism of Ford’s antics quite disingenuous considering the source. Ford’s detractors predominantly consist of hard line Liberals and New Democrats who are no stranger to making the case against our government’s draconian war on drugs; to see them lambasting Ford under this socially conservative pretense of deviant drug use really amounts to nothing less than intellectual dishonesty.

    I drink and smoke pot all the time when I’m off work, sometimes I even do coke, sometimes in public, yet no one’s interested in filming me. IMHO, Ford’s antics aren’t the issue here, the unquenchable voyeuristic desire of the mainstream media for capturing the most wealthy, powerful and famous among us on film during the most intimate moments of their lives which then passes it off as news is what should be at issue here. Call me nostalgic for the days of a Cronkite gold standard in broadcasting which have long since come and gone, but it appears to me that when a video of an inebriated mayor walking down a street makes international headlines, the only journalists who can legitimately still call themselves journalists left in the field are wartime correspondents.

    • You drink, smoke pot, and do some coke in public? Are you also overweight and stupid as well? If you are it sounds like you’re a Rob Ford clone.

      • ya looks to me your a pompous asshole! Im sure you have done things even worse.

        • Micky’s from Etobicoke and applying for the position as the public spokesperson for the “I’m a Rob Ford Groupie” club. Notice how he couches his terminology in the best imitation of the mayor’s. Keep up the good work Micky. We’re all on your side. LOL.

    • Drink, smoke and snort all you want. Right now nobody cares what you do but, should you become mayor, I think people will change their tune in regards to your behavior. There is responsibility that comes along with being a public official and if a public official cannot take themselves seriously, then how is anybody else supposed too? Rob Ford is a disgrace, period!

  4. rob ford follows me on twitter. BOOM!

  5. GET OFF THE MAYORS CASE *** HES ALLOWED TO HAVE A FEW DRINKS ONCE IN AWHILE **HES NOT HARMING ANYBODY** SO STOP MEDDLING IN HIS AFFAIRS** HES HUMAN *** SO TO YOU THE PUBLIC AND MEDIA BACK OFF AND TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN AFFAIRS *** CHEERS *** HERES ONE ON ME ROB! lol

  6. This is what our tax dollars pay for–Toronto’s answer to London’s Fatburg–The Blimpinburg.

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