In a column published Saturday in the National Post, Conrad Black defends his interview with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and takes on his critics at the Toronto Star.
“I do not conduct an antagonistic debate,” Black said of Zoomer, the show he co-hosts on Vision TV. “This is a format that viewers seem to enjoy, and it was on this basis that guests — including Mayor Ford, last week — have agreed to speak with me.” The intent of the interview? To give Ford space in which “he could say whatever he wanted to get off his chest.”
In the conversation broadcast Monday evening, Ford was asked about his relationship with the media. During his response, he discussed an incident on May 2, 2012, outside Ford’s home involving Star reporter Daniel Dale. “I have little kids,” Ford told Black. “When a guy’s taking pictures of little kids, I don’t want to say that word, but you starting thinking you know, what’s this guy all about.”
Ford may not have said the word but response to his insinuation was swift.
“Just when you think Mayor Ford has said the most stupid thing, such as letting the whole world know about his sex life at home, he tops himself with another outrage,” Cooke wrote in an email to The Canadian Press. “Mr. Ford calling reporter Daniel Dale a pedophile tells you all you need to know about our mayor’s brain.”
Dale also replied to the Ford interview:
“It’s the word that people are already attaching to my name in emails and Twitter posts. It’s the word that will now come up every time a prospective interviewee or new acquaintance Googles me. It’s false. It’s malicious. It’s defamatory. It’s mind-boggling. It’s damn gross”
The mayor declined to elaborate or apologize for his comments. “I stand by my words, what I said with Conrad Black,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “I stand by every word I said.”
Later in the week, Dale served Ford with a libel notice. In response, Vision TV posted a message on its website: “As there is now the threat of legal action, ZoomerMedia will not be making a statement until such time as we can consult with our attorneys to consider the allegations and determine next steps.”
ZoomerMedia may have declined comment but Black has quite a lot to say in Saturday’s column. Calling the Dale story a sideshow, he said of the lawsuit: “it’s righteousness is hypocrisy and claptrap, as usual.”
As for that word Ford wouldn’t say, Black says people have it wrong:
“Mr. Ford’s exact phrasing was: ‘I have little kids, and when a guy’s taking pictures of little kids, I don’t want to say that word, but you start thinking, you know, what’s this guy all about?’ The plainest meaning that can be ascribed to these words is that Mr. Ford was explaining his thoughts at the time, before he found out that the person lurking about his property line was a reporter, not a predator. … The notion that the mayor had insinuated that Dale was a pervert was a confection uniquely of his colleagues at the Star, and he has his colleagues to thank for whatever stigmatization he feels he has suffered.”
You can read Black’s column in its entirely by following this link.