The media vs. Rob Ford: Barbara Amiel explains why the war is over the top

‘Has anyone been smelling the stories on Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford these days?’

The attack on Rob Ford is over-the-top

Mark Blinch/Reuters

“Didn’t you notice a powerful and obnoxious odour of mendacity in this room? There ain’t nothing more powerful than the odour of mendacity,” says Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams’s play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. “You can smell it.”

Has anyone been smelling the stories on Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford these days? They come cloaked in high-flown speeches about the public’s right to know and breast-beating sanctimony, but for me, they’ve got that smell. I don’t know Rob Ford. I have no idea whether he has an alcohol or drug problem, not my alley. Still, Toronto voters elected him. Yet here we are, bang in a local edition of the culture wars—and, my, hasn’t everyone come oiling out of the closet. There’s not a hair’s breadth of disagreement between the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, when it comes to Rob Ford.

A quick reprise. There is said to be a tape showing Mayor Ford smoking crack cocaine. Who cares, would be my response, but that’s idiosyncratic. Still, the actual tape has never appeared. Posses of journalists are asking the mayor if he is a crack cocaine addict. Every crack cocaine addict I have ever seen is a bundle of skin and bone. Mayor Ford could be their poster boy: Smoke crack and not lose an ounce.

Possession of crack cocaine could, under Section 4 of the Criminal Code, result in suspended sentence, discharge, fine and/or jail, depending on the circumstances and judge. Having a mayor convicted of smoking crack cocaine could make him vulnerable to attempts to get him booted out of office on grounds of bad behaviour. I still think that the best way to boot out mayors is through the ballot box, but then, I am an old-fashioned gal.

Now comes the really smelly stuff. The Globe and Mail on May 25 publishes a five-page article which is introduced with Biblical sonority as “an extensive examination of the Toronto Ford family’s decades-old connection to illicit drugs.” The article is trumpeted as an exemplar of journalistic rigour, although all I can see is rigor mortis of self-righteousness.

It is alleged that from approximately 1979 to 1986, the mayor’s older brother Doug sold hash in Etobicoke. He was never arrested. Doug Ford would have been 21 years old in 1986, making younger brother Rob Ford 10 years old when the alleged dealing began and 17 when it ended. These allegations are made by 10 people whose names cannot be disclosed. Brother Randy was arrested some 27 years ago for assault and forcible confinement but the Globe doesn’t know if the case went to court. Some unnamed person alleged that Randy sold hash as well. Then we have the lurid past of sister Kathy, eldest of the Ford siblings. Hers is a tale of woe indeed, in which her long-time beau announced he was going to kill Rob Ford, which, one would think, makes him an ally of the Globe and Star and he had indeed earlier shot Kathy in the face. However, the Globe tells us that these charges were dropped. So I’m not entirely clear why we are told about them in the first place.

But, wait, there is more—as late-night infomercials say when trying to sell you another self-retracting hose. Kathy was also involved with white supremacists. A former Klansman (unnamed) remembers hanging out in the Ford family basement although he couldn’t remember meeting the Ford brothers. Young Kathy, he says, was not a “real believer . . . others just join to piss off their parents or carry out some personal act of rebellion. Clearly [Kathy] was in the latter camp.” The Globe doesn’t say whether they think it’s better to be a true-blue believing Nazi or just a Nazi for fun—hard to say, I suppose.

In summary. The elder brother of Rob Ford is alleged to have sold hash, a soft drug that both the Globe and the Star have suggested should not be criminalized—except perhaps when it involves the Ford family. There is zero evidence for these allegations. So what is the crime—dealing in soft drugs or being a member of the Ford family? This story has been 18 months in the making. The reporters worked hard but came up with nothing. Not their fault; it happens. You don’t publish. Was all that consulting and agonizing described by the Globe in a note with the story simply its editors wrestling with the morality of making accusations with no evidence? Do they think the absence of evidence is evidence? This is about as bad as journalism gets.

By the 1980s, psychiatrists at Ontario’s Addiction Research Foundation had backed the idea that people should inform themselves about the consequences of drug use and make their own decisions. Even earlier, we had the LeDain royal commission on drugs recommending decriminalization. If every word about Doug Ford and family were true, what we have is a 26-year-old story of a couple of kids who were selling soft drugs at a time when controversy over usage was declining.

For me, Mayor Rob Ford lacks any charm that might mollify his enemies. Even his sensible suggestions—God knows Toronto needs an expanded subway system like every other major capital in the world—get ditched because of his ham-fisted, in-your-face approach. Still, this campaign against Ford is self-evidently an attempt to bury a conservative political family outside the normal political process aided by the media behaving like snakes hissing around prey. One can only imagine the hysteria and accusations if this were done to a protected icon of the progressives: if newspapers or TV aired “alleged” nasties about the family of David Suzuki or Stephen Lewis. They would rightly be told where to get off. Right now and here.

Comments: barbara.amiel@macleans.rogers.com For another take on Rob Ford, read Feschuk’s take on Ford.


The media vs. Rob Ford: Barbara Amiel explains why the war is over the top

  1. The facts are, that at least four different people have reported seeing Rob Ford in this compromising video. Murderers have been put away for less. This is not to mention a photo published of Rob Ford apparently partying with people said to be involved in the illegal drug trade. Two of these men were subsequently shot. One of them was shot dead. I don’t care either if Rob Ford smokes crack, but he has become a huge embarrassment to both the city of Toronto, and to Canada as a whole. Any one can save the city money by cutting services and people’s jobs: it should be someone we can respect…NOT ROB FORD

    • Then vote him out, like one does in a democracy. This isn’t Korea or Cuba.

      • Yeah, people don’t break election laws here, Oh wait…

    • These facts only exist in your mind, not in the real world.

    • murderers or anybody else don’t get put away on gossip – but speaking of the criminal justice system – where is it? If Ford is guilty of anything, or there are even serious allegations of criminal behaviour, where are the cops? Or is this part of the NWO – the Globe and Star are accuser, judge and jury, no courts required? Not often I agree with Ms Amiel, but this whole thing really stinks.

      • correction.

        Canada does not have a “criminal justice system”,
        it has a “Legal System”

        • hmmmm – ‘criminal justice system canada’ gets 26 million hits on google – maybe you ought to check with whoever planted this morsel of wisdom in your head???? – if you’re working on your LSATs, I’d advise a bit less time sharing your “knowledge” on discussion sites, and a bit more actually trying to get some ….

    • Who are the 4 people?

    • Ford has become an embarrassment to Toronto? Did he do that to himself or did the media. Why doesn’t anybody say the Toronto Star has become an embarrassment to Toronto? Do not assume that the media are pure and objective; they are owned by powerful business interests. Ms. Amiel has ben in a situation to see just how far they will go when they are out to “get” someone, and how they seem to co-ordinate their activities with law enforcement agencies

      • In order for your comment to make any sense, it would mean that the Toronto Star alone reports badly and without cause about the mayor. Except that isn’t even remotely true. In what way has the Toronto Star embarrassed itself – by reporting the incredibly bizarre antics of Rob Ford, his public figure brother and their family antics? It’s called ‘news’.

    • Even more people have “reported seeing” Nessie and Sasquatch. I’m sure some of them even had a “compromising video” but “something happened to it”… I’m even surer that the City of Toronto and Canada as a whole would hardly be embarrassed that someone somewhere claims they have a video of someone doing something illegal, immoral or fattening.
      Enough already.

  2. I’m going to politely disagree. I think the existence of the video is pretty relevant information to the public. Sitting on it forever because they don’t physically have it would be irresponsible in my view. Credible information does not necessarily equal evidence that would establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt. I view the existence of this video as being pretty credible (although like Mr. Holyday, I wonder about its authenticity). There is a reason that every news outlet, regardless of political stripe, has been reporting on this: the public has a legitimate interest.

    Politicians are not meant to be immune from criticism between elections. This refrain of “but he was democratically elected” is idiotic. To that I say: who cares? So was every other councillor. That does not give you the privilege of ignoring the law or silencing all dissent and, indeed, embroiling yourself in politics means your personal life will be under some scrutiny. So yes we are allowed to be critical of and even oppose our democratically elected mayor – that is part of democracy too.

    • You can be critical of anyone you want, but when you critique is based on fantasy then you are the idiot, not your target!

      • with all due respect, I have not seen any critique based on “fantasy” and mine certainly are not. “Not having possession of a video tape” does not equal “fantasy.” Had someone seen Mr. Ford smoking crack with their own eyes – they would not have a video tape, and it would not be fantasy (to be clear – that was a hypothetical scenario, and not a fantasy). And certainly the critiques over Mr. Ford’s handling of these accusations are not based on fantasy.

        Again, with all due respect, this notion that Mr. Ford should be immune from criticism unless he can be criminally convicted of something entirely miss the point of “democracy”. The values of democracy consist of more than a single day every four years when you vote. It consists of transparency, accountability and rule of law, all of which require free and, indeed, vigorous criticism, and the same goes for every politician of every stripe.

        If you do not believe that Mr. Ford smokes crack and if you believe that all of his behavior is acceptable or even positive – power to you. You have a right to that opinion no matter how wrong headed it may appear to me, and I strongly disagree. However you have no right to claim that my criticism or other beliefs of Mr. Ford is “undemocratic” or in some way inappropriate to make simply because you don’t agree with them. You have a perfect right to think I’m wrong, but no right to suggest that I shouldn’t be allowed to be critical merely because Mr. Ford was elected. On the contrary, after the election, when one is in a position of power is when criticism becomes most important.

        • Very nicely put!

        • Well fantasy seems to be your thing, I never said your criticism was undemocratic. I never said you couldn’t criticise anyone. I also never said you can’t criticise until a criminal conviction is real.

          What I said was when you base your criticism on fantasy you are the idiot, not your target.

          So go ahead, keep criticising Ford for things that aren’t real (simply put there is no video). You can also hold a sign claiming aliens rule the world and march all over parliament if you want. This is rooted in as much fact as the ford video, so go fill your boots.

          How you think that helps the democractic process is beyond me, but you can do it.

          • I find the notion that 3 independent and credible journalists fabricated the video to strain credulity to be honest, and in my view it diverges in significant ways from claims of an alien invasion. Many people share that view, including the Deputy Mayor, who has historically been a strong ally of Mr. Ford. This is not fantasy. It is a measured belief based on available information. I also find Mr. Ford’s response to be extremely suspicious as well as the fact that many staffer have fled and the police have confirmed that they have taken statements from some of them. If you find none of that suspicious, fair enough, but it cannot rationally said to be a fantasy. I believe there is (or was) a video, and there is a reasonable basis for that belief. This of course does not mean you have to believe it, but I certainly have a rational basis for believing there is.

            Further you may note that this commentary is in response to an opinion piece that does say, more or less, that people should stop criticising Mr. Ford because he was democratically elected.

          • The closest this piece comes to saying what you write is this: “…an attempt to bury a conservative political family outside the normal
            political process aided by the media behaving like snakes hissing around

            Which isn’t really at al the same as saying people should stop criticising because he was democractically elected. Contriving criminal charges based on fantasy is nowhere near ‘normal political processes’, but then again – I am not a liberal and apparently it now is.

            The fact that you can make this leap in logic also explains why you are able to make many other leaps and end up believing in the ‘fake but accurate’ story.

            As I said, your criticism does not demean Ford – best go wash that dirt off your face.

          • Again, I will politely disagree. I think the clear theme of the entire piece is that “rob ford was elected, all of just don’t like him, but since he was elected you should shut up.” I don’t view that as a leap in logic, and frankly I doubt that Ms. Amiel would disagree that was what she was getting at. Obviously the press is interested in allegations that there is a video of the Mayor smoking crack. We would have a terrible, terrible press if they were not. They SHOULD be interested in that. The Toronto Star also broke ORNGE and eHealth and, I think, the gas plant. They are meant to follow up on stories and print matters of public interest, even when critical to the government. That is, in fact, the highest possible duty and why we trumpet “freedom of the press.” Hiss on, I say; hiss on.

            To be clear, I am not charging Ford criminally, and neither to my knowledge has anyone (since he was arrested and charged in Florida for drug possession and DUI). I think I have outlined why I think it is rational to believe that a video exists, and I understand you do not believe it does; I don’t think it is going to be particularly useful for me to cite my reasons again but they definitely exist. Disagreeing with them or not liking them does not in fact make them non-existent. Is the video real? No idea – although Ford’s increasingly erratic behaviour makes me very suspicious that there is some circumstance causing erratic behaviour in his personal life. It may, however, be useful to point out that apparently my reasoning is shared by slightly over half the people in the city right now. So how does democracy fit into that?

            I agree my criticism does not “demean” Mr. Ford. And why should it? Political criticism is not inherently demeaning

          • You just don’t get it do you, it is the media who are creating this myth of instability, criminal behaviour, psychotic split, etc by generating fake stories or embellishing useless stories. Recall the car magnet story just before the big crack story broke. There is a whole list of stories trumpeted by the media before the crack cocaine, where are they all now???

            You are being suckered along by the media cause you wish to believe! Yet, you consider this the highest possible duty when what they are doing is misleading the public.

            You think the meme of the story is the democractic aspect, but fail to read all the parts about the media errors in reporting about Ford. For Pete’s sake, the piece is title ‘the media vs Ford, how could you miss that!

          • I’m well aware of the very few errors around Mr. Ford. It is my view that the media prints his statements with the same alacrity as all the rest. For example when the communications director stated that nobody had requested any emails be deleted – there was no lag on reporting that nor was it buried to the back page. The problem arises because Mr. Ford is declining to address these issues in any but the most cursory way. The issues between Mr. Ford and the media (these issues used to be called, if you remember, Ford v Toronto Star – they’ve expanded) are authored largely by Mr. Ford.

            I actually view the fact that Mr. Ford ran out of a council meeting to stick magnets to cars as “erratic” and yes, newsworthy. I thought the bylaw issue was frivolous, but that was not brought by “the media”. That was just a resident exercising her rights as granted by the much vaunted democratic process.

            I am well aware of all the stories that predated the crack story. But these were not untrue stories; they were all stuff that Mr. Ford actually did, and with the exception of a story about what he ate for lunch (which I agree was frivolous) they were newsworthy. This is not a “myth” of erratic behaviour. It is reporting erratic behaviour.

          • How about that turncoat nick kouvalis frenchie? The media got to him too. Please explain.

          • You need to reread the article – the thrust of the criticism is not that people should leave him alone because he was democratically elected, but because you don’t convict anyone on allegations. If there is a video (I do agree the “reporters” were probably truthfully reporting what they think they saw), then it needs to be seen by cops, and analysed by people who know what they are doing to see if it is actually real – otherwise, all you have is what we have now a ‘yes he did, no I didn’t’ scenario, with no victims or crime otherwise – no missing property, no victims of some kind of violence. I cannot see any court convicting any person on this scenario. And like Ms Amiel says, the whole ‘terrible history of the Fords!!! OMG!!!’ – is again just a bunch of basically gossip and slander. No ‘proof’ of any crime that would even get a prosecutor interested, let alone stand up in court. So the Star and the Globe (and some others) have evidently decided to be the entire legal system and convict this guy – because they don’t like him for other reasons. As I said earlier – it just stinks.

          • For the media to be guilty of “slander” (or more correctly, “libel”
            because their accusations are written), the accusations would have to be groundless falsehoods. I find it highly suspicious, then, that Ford has not even *threatened* to sue these media outlets for libel. He has the means, and he’s certainly never had a problem calling the authorities to his defense in the past, so why isn’t he hauling these “mendacious” media outlets into court? I can only conclude; when combined with the existence of a photo that appears to portray him partying with alleged drug dealers (1 of whom is now dead) at an alleged crack-house, his careful avoidance of the phrase “I have *never* smoked crack” the only time he spoke directly to the accusation, his admittedly lawyer-ordered silence in response to direct questions on the accusation, the exodus of a third of his senior staffers, the open criticism from previously staunch allies on council, the distancing of the provincial and federal (Progressive) Conservative Parties, and the cautious interest of the Toronto Police; that there is more than a kernel of truth to these accusations…

          • You can’t sue everyone, it takes a lot of money, time and effort! Count all the allegations against him in the last year, there is no way he can afford to sue them all, yes – he may eventually win it court but who pays the lawyers in the meantime? They don’t exactly work for free.

            Then he may not win, not because the story was true but because sometimes it is just difficult to prove slander/libel.

            So shall he risk all his personal wealth for this? What a great outcome this would be for the left and indeed is a typical means of breaking someone.

            No, he has played it correctly. Say little, sit back and wait for the story to die on its own. Then, he can pick and choose at his own leisure any libel case if he so chooses.

          • There’s probably no case yet – you can’t sue somebody for saying ‘I saw a video that looked like Ford smoking crack’ – we all accept the reporter’s word that they saw the vid, but that is not proof that Ford did anything. Keep the failure of the cops to charge the guy with anything in mind – if this gets to court, it’s not up to Ford to disprove gossip, it’s up to those doing the accusing to *prove beyond reasonable doubt* he actually did something illegal – and obviously saying “I saw a vid on a small screen at night that looked like him doing something bad!! (but sorry the vid is not available for anyone else to see or analyse!!)’ is NOT proof, in any honest court. The mindless frenzied unstoppable gossip of the “politically correct” Ford haters is obviously not something that can be stopped by simple denials, and suing a chimera would just drag the media circus on for god knows how long. These people who refuse to let the story die down, at least until the cops decide there is something they can charge the guy with, are not, however, like the GM and Star, going to come out of this looking very good, once the hysteria wears off and people are left looking for reasons they tried to destroy this man on gossip and decades-old rumors from people who won’t even give their names. It’s like a mob – they have taken it this far, and have to finish it, because to leave it now and admit they overreacted seriously would make them lose a lot of face, to somebody they obviously cannot stomach the idea of losing face to. Pretty sad commentary on “progressives” in our country these days.

          • The first person to accuse Ford of being on drugs was the Thompson woman who also said he patted her behind. She was a defeated politician (and a media person). I guess she was also a liberal. He could have sued her for deformation of character had this”video picture” not suddenly appeared and seemed to back up her accusation. The video of the Eagle carrying off a child was faked. This Ford video is a fake.

            The owners of the media wanted someone Jewish and Gay as Mayor and as Premier, he is neither. He does not take a salary as Mayor, he does not need money, therefore he is probably indebted to none of the media powers or the mob. He has an uphill battle with these vipers after him. Politics can be dangerous and dirty, unions can be managed by criminal elements and are powerful and dangerous.

            The Liberals do not want a popular person elected in Ontario who is not controlled by them.

          • I appreciate your commentary – and I agree based on the information at hand, even with an authenticated tape, I would not convict Mr. Ford of a crime if I were sitting on a jury (as his lawyer said – anything could be in that pipe). However, I think that it is possible to set up a false dichotomy of “could support criminal conviction” and “nothing fishy going on here.” There is a lot of stuff in between those two points. The fact that no reasonable person could convict Ford of a crime does not mean that there are not facts on which a reasonable person could form an opinion, and, like all politicians, Mr. Ford is in a position where the standard is somewhat higher than “he could not be convicted of a crime” – which I tend to see a good thing. I don’t think any reasonable person could look at City Hall over the past four weeks and not believe there is something up. 6 staff members left over the course of 10 days. That alone is suspicious. Was it for 6 unrelated reasons? Maybe – but it would a lot easier for many of us to believe if anyone told us what those reasons were (we got one reason from the last the staff member).

            As an aside – I am obviously not a member of “Ford Nation”, however, when the story first broke I was very, very skeptical. Contrary to the article above, as well as some of this commentary, I am not in fact willing to believe any anti-Ford allegation simply because I have no appreciation for the man or his politics. There are some new facts that have caused my skepticism to wane, but in large part that was caused by the response of Ford himself. They media didn’t do that; he did.

          • – the media seem to refuse to acknowledge that they have become the center of the story, their complete refusal to let this story go – even when the cops are very obviously not interested no matter how many new rumors and gossips these people out to get Ford (it’s very obvious) come running to the public with. As far as people leaving his office goes – well, the media create a pressure cooker, and when some people cannot deal with this media frenzy and quit to get away from it, and the media starts in with ‘Wow people leaving what is he hiding now???’ stuff – with no reference at all to their own role in what is going on here – well, the media in Canada has not been looking very good the last few years, but this is getting to be a new low, even for them – when the more sane ones come out of this frenzy, I expect there’s going to be some serious questioning about this whole thing – I certainly hope so, anyway.

          • Once again I must politely disagree. I do not believe that the media is the story, and it is fundamentally unconvincing to claim that “the media” is in a conspiracy against Ford. Members of the media have been good friends to Mr. Ford (I’m looking at 1010 News and the Sun Media) and clearly have no ideological axe to grind. They are reporting on a significant story. I once again reiterate – this is what they are meant to do. The interest of the Toronto Police is, respectfully, besides the point. They were also uninterested that Mr. Ford was reading while driving.That does not mean there was not a level of recklessness that we should all be interested in – the fact that he is not convicted of something is not the point. The press would be in a sorry state if they said “well he said “ridiculous” so let’s all go home.” Certainly the Star would never have broken ORNGE or eHealth had they been as easy going as Mr. Ford would now like them to be. As an aside, Mr. Mazza of ORNGE did leave his position because of media pressure – and I fully believe there was a great deal of pressure. That does not mean that the pressure was unjust or wrongfully applied, and certainly many Liberal MPPs faced a great deal of media scrutiny over it. Did they feel pressure? I have no doubt – and once again the pressure was entirely appropriate to the circumstances. As I said above – Hiss on, Canadian media. Your activities, partisan or not, are a significant part of any accountability machinery left in Canada. Carry on.

            Moreover, I find the claim that 6 staffers couldn’t withstand 10 days of sustained media scrutiny on Mr. Ford to be highly unlikely considering the nature of the positions they held. A press secretary is unlikely to quit his position because of media interest. And of course, if should be kept in mind that while there is scrutiny of Ford at City Hall, the staff members are not under any particular scrutiny. Indeed, in this context, we’ve heard about them when they left employment. If they wanted to remain under the radar, they likely would have stayed. Were there other reasons. Maybe. And that begs the question of why we don’t know what they are.

          • You certainly write a lot, nothing new to say but a lot of words.

          • Hey frenchie, are you saying it is all a conspiracy?

            The star, post and golbe?

            The staffers leaving and the if anything, odd behavior from the mayor regarding this issue is not really happening?

            The house on Windsor is a hologram and the people living there are actors or better yet clones?

            The police reports of the break in at the Windsor house are fake and the cops are in on this grand conspiracy?

            320 Dixon isn’t really there and the RCMP isn’t investigating the incident regarding a man falling off a balcony in connection with the video tape that doesn’t exist.

            Please enlighten me…

          • Fantasy is not conspiracy, this whole ford hate-fest is nothing more than leftist fantasy!

          • Waving your hands in the air frantically and closing your eyes will never make this story go away. Our Mayor is photographed in front of a known crack house with two men tied to the drug trade by police who were shot several days later, and you still want to see some video or other? Her nibs is absolutely correct, there is a stench hanging over this story, but it is emanating from the Ford brothers.

  3. “Every crack cocaine addict I have ever seen is a bundle of skin and bone. Mayor Ford could be their poster boy: Smoke crack and not lose an ounce.”

    This is so ignorant and misses the point. No one has claimed Ford to be an addict, only that he has smoked crack on at least one occasion. Clearly the man is not an addict, if he were his reputation would be destroyed in a matter of days.

    The fact you even included this in the article just destroys your credibility, as you clearly haven’t thought out the issue, done any research on the effects of crack, and just use Ford’s weight for cheap, stupid laughs.

    • What credibility?

    • Chris Farley. Anything else? The whole article falls apart after that. Didn’t expect this drivel in Macleans.

      • You’ve obviously never seen a Barbara Amiel wordvomit spiel before then.

      • let’s not forget John Belushi.

        Come to think of it, it appears Mayor Rob Ford’s character is modelled after Bluto Blutarsky in Animal House.

  4. Did you notice a powerful and obnoxious odour of martyrdom spin in this article?

    • I think it rubs-off from the bed sheets

    • Hahaha! WAIT! GFMD….before you chastise me for laughing…let me clarify. This is a humorous parody of Doug and Rob back in high school. It is MEANT to elicit laughter.

  5. Thank you Barbara, for shining some much needed lucidity on this topic. The real fact is: in this day and age of technology, ANYONE can make a video of what ever they want and pass it off as the holy truth. The job of journalists is not to jump on the band wagon and expound this rubbish from the mountain tops but to find out what the real truth is and report it as such. But no, our left wing media is ready to jump into/onto any thing that looks like it can tar a conservative with feathers. Such a travesty that people spend money to go to school to learn how to report the NEWS and end up believing every
    Tom, Dick and Harry story concocted in order to defame someone they don’t like. Shame on the media and every reporter that touts this as news and/ or the truth.

    • Quick go tell James Cameron that a bunch of kids from Etobicoke are able to make digital human replicas without access to an original Rob Ford face scan aaaand without a multi million dollar budget! Get those guys working on Avatar 2 STAT!

      • Did you see the video of the eagle swooping down and picking up a baby from the park? That was a group of college kids in montreal… and do you think you could really spot a half a$$ fake on an Iphone’s screen being held by someone else as 2 of you crane your necks to watch?

        • Replicating an animal is in a different league far below making a convincing human face. For the same reason why you can’t tell two eagles apart if they have the same colour, whereas if we know two twins well enough (parents or siblings), we can always tell them apart. Humans have evolved to understand minute details in eachother’s faces critical to their survival. We can spot bullshit very easily. That’s why humanoid robots are so fricken creepy. They look real but there’s something about them that gives most people goosebumps.
          Again, nobody — not even Hollywood — has managed to make a convincing human digital replica. Tron: Legacy cost over $200M and still couldn’t get Jeff Bridges to look real. Close, but not real. Don’t take my word for it: Go watch a clip on your iPhone.

      • – why do you need “an original Rob Ford face scan” to mock up a quick vid that looks passable on a small screen in a dark car from a 2-3 foot distance at night????? – the guy has been mayor of Canada’s largest city for a few years now, his picture, and vids, are on the news every day pretty well – no problem getting a very wide selection of faces to work with here – given, as I said, the small screening and no intention of letting it be examined for authenticity, there would be, I suspect, a very large number of people who could do this, for a few bucks or just for a prank that got out of hand ….

    • If it’s all rubbish then why has Rob Ford never come out and said “I have never smoked crack cocaine. There is no video and if there is one it is a fake.” Why? Why did he stay essentially silent for a week? He said it was lawyers’ advice – if he was totally innocent he would have ignored that advice. What would you do if you were publically accused of something you had never done. Seriously? Wouldn’t you make the clearest possible denial?

      • and since there appears to be no “photo”, there is no credibility!

      • – spent any time around you tube lately? There’s literally an endless parade of stuff made by amateurs, much of which looks quite good … the amount of faking that would have to be done to make something passable on a 2-inch screen in a dark car would be minimal – if the vid would stand up to serious examination, then why aren’t they giving it to the people who could do this examination?????? – pretty suspicious, I’d say

  6. Culture war is right. Personally I get more utility from watching the city’s panjandrums work themselves into a fury at the sight of the Mayor than I ever would from any actual improvements to city policy. Once Ford is ousted in the next election the city will be able to get back to the vitally important business of building transgendered washrooms, taxing plastic bags, and celebrating our “diversity”. That fact that Mayor Ford was able to briefly take control of the city away from the downtown elites kindles some small hope that, in a striking example of unintended consequences, the mass importation of foreigners might finally put an end to the PC culture torturing us all with its sanctimonious self-righteousness. Although I suspect in retrospect the Adam Vaughan devotees will probably seem much more pleasant than that which is to follow. That being said, I’ll take what silver linings I can get.

    • The media are causing these distractions to keep Ford from city business. I don’t care about his personal life. I care about my tax dollar I also care about my provincial tax dollar. The first nonsense started with his raising money for the ball team and it being accidentally put on city letterhead. To me, if people wanted to donate, it did not matter what it was written on, could have been toilet paper. The important thing is what the money was to be used for.

      Many media reporters are dirty and slaves to their owners ambitions. Their incomes are less than their ambitions and they are open to collusion.

      • There was nothing accidental about Rob Ford putting his solicitation letters on his City of Toronto letterhead. You must imagine him to be a lot more thick than every indication suggests he is already. In fact, as reported in just about every news source carrying the story, he wilfully did it, was warned numerous times to stop doing, but did it anyway. The important thing is NOT what the money was used for, it’s the approach to doing it, and the obvious-to-anyone implication that by supporting the councillor’s cause, you can have him owe you one.

  7. I am so tired of hearing the unusual sources of conservative political claptrap turn this into a story about “liberals” versus “conservatives”. How utterly boringly. It really is embarassing that the level of political discourse in this country revolves around the same old cliches, time and time again. Imagine how New Yorkers, or Parisians, or Moscovites would react to a similar story. The mayor of one of those cities would resign in disgrace under the collective disapproval of all sectors of society. In Canada, he is defended–defended!–by the elites. Ford is just a big dummy, a straw man that the conservative elites love dearly. The more he is attacked, the more viscious and snakelike they can accuse the “liberal” (ha!) media of being, which plays right into the official propaganda of the Reform Conservative Alliance. What a total joke. In summation: Barbara, try to formulate an original thought, and stop boring us just as you have bored citizens of other fine nations. The mayor of Toronto smoking crack is a story. The mayor of Toronto obviously lying to the voters that elected him is a bigger story. The fact that his approval ratings are unchanged is also a story–and a disturbing one at that.

  8. I retract my “boring” comment. I have actually enjoyed many of your articles. My apologies. But this one bothered me. Sorry! Should not have gotten personal.

  9. “There is said to be a tape showing Mayor Ford smoking crack cocaine. Who cares, would be my response, but that’s idiosyncratic.”

    You misspelled ‘idiotic’, Ms. Amiel. Or did you simply forget that in North America illegal narcotics come closely entwined with a violent criminal subculture? Existing laws aside, is it appropriate for the mayor of a large city, one in which a high percentage of murders and shootings are tied to the drug trade, to maintain such acquaintances? Was Ford posing for a photo with a soon-to-be-murdered man also just a lark, something to be laughed off?

  10. What “facts” are you referring to? Fact = real proof, not fantasy and speculation.

  11. Barbara Amiel is an idiot can anyone take this lady seriously? Amiel as everyone knows is married to that convicted criminal Conrad Black. Since Amiel is married to a con man not surprising she would defend another con Rob Ford. Well Barbara, the evidence is mounting, Gawker.com, Toronto Star, and the Globe and Mail have figured out that 15 Windsor is the residence in North Toronto where Ford used to smoke crack with his pals.
    Two thugs attacked people inside the residence and the police confirm this neighbours also say along with the police that the house is a well known crack house. So Ms. Amiel, your pathetic attempts to defend Rob Ford just shows how silly you really are. After all, you don’t have much substance since crime runs in your family.

    • Personal attacks are a hallmark of the left and you have followed the script nicely. Well done, maybe there is a job waiting for you in the IRS!

      • Really. Only Left leaning people personally attack people. Don’t be an a$$. Stupid comment.

        • Yah, calling me an a$$ really disproves my point!

          • You don’t have a point you a$$.

    • But I thought he was smoking with Somali drug dealers not a 51 yr old Italian lady?!?!

  12. This comment was deleted.

    • Personal attacks are a hallmark of the left and you have followed the
      script nicely. Well done, maybe there is another job also waiting for you in the

  13. Barbara Amiel was past her best by date 20 years ago. Macleans wonders why they have lost their relevancy in the Canadian discussion…perhaps it is because they continue to promote Amiel as the best they have. It is difficult for people to take Macleans seriously when they provide a platform for this drivel.

    • Personal attacks are a hallmark of the left and you have followed the
      script nicely.

      I’d say there is a job for you in the IRS, but these seem to be filling up quickly!

      Maybe try the EPA.

      God knows you’ll never get a job with Harper et co , Ha

    • Where did this women get her licence to write? By sending in the top of a Rice Krispie’s box? Or did Conrad have to call in some markers to get this piece of utterly ridiculous, unbelievably amateurish tripe published? Boy what a rightwing bottom feeder this women has turned into. Barbara please don’t subject us to any more of your pathetic attempts at journalism. Your an embarrassment to the trade.

  14. This comment was deleted.

    • Personal attacks are a hallmark of the left and you have followed the
      script nicely.

      I really can’t find any more jobs for you guys, so would appreciate if you could come back to actual arguments.

      • Frenchie, my comments were gentlemanly compared to what I could have said.
        Barb is pissed off because she was denied entry into the Imperial Order, Daughters of the Empire. So off she goes in the opposite direction, pandering to a Boss politician because he only sold ‘soft’ drugs, not hard ones.

        She and IODE should arrange to work things out, after which, she can report on Great Etobicoke Gardens.

    • – almost as good as the ‘return to the witch hunt days of Salem’ wherein to be accused by the town elders (aka Star and GM) is as good as proof of your guilt, and trying to deny it just confirms their belief in your guilt – no courts needed!!!!

      • Siam, I read Arthur Miller’s great play.
        There is no point in the play where Cotton Mather and the Elders are shown a video recording of the Devil.

        At least, not as I recall. If you can recall that, let me know. If not, consider your analogy weak.

        • – not as weak as whatever point you’re trying to make here …

          • -Two reporters are shown what appears to be video of Rob Ford in the act of committing a crime. They write that they have seen the video.
            Rob Ford spends 8 days not replying to reporters’ questions except to say “ridiculous.”
            No one has yet pronouced the word ‘guilty’.

            And you think this constitutes a ‘media witch-hunt’.
            Perhaps, because you yourself feel ‘hunted’??

  15. Barbara Amiel: well done, well done! I have not laughed so hard for days! Funny, witty, and accurate to a ‘t’.

    “The Globe doesn’t say whether they think it’s better to be a true-blue believing Nazi or just a Nazi for fun—hard to say, I suppose.” Over the top funny!

    Oh, and I didn’t know, since I don’t know the Fords either, that Doug is older than Rob. You wouldn’t say!

    Thank you Barbara Amiel. Thank you for reaching deep and coming up big!

  16. Rob Ford has turned Toronto into a joke to the world and you have turned yourself into a joke to all readers. LOL

  17. Great article, nice to see old fashion journalism! Nothing annoys me more about the “press” these days then stories not based in fact and not verified. News is about reporting the facts not making up fiction.

  18. You are way off base in this column, perhaps because you are unfamiliar with the facts on the ground. Rob Ford was duly elected, no doubt, but that does mean a mayor should not have good policies and be held accountable. We’re talking about someone who is proud of his ignorance, who refuses the advice of experts, and whose policies (apart from anything to do with cutting cost) are uniformly out of date, awful and possibly damaging to the city’s long-term health. The press is right to question those policies, and when Ford instead runs from them, boycotts the press and makes a gaffe a week you cannot blame the media for the resulting circus. The crack scandal is just the icing on the cake.

    Had Toronto elected another conservative mayor (or any conservative mayor, since Ford is more of a populist than he is an actual conservative) it is unlikely any of these stories would have resulted. Ford has been his own worst enemy time and time again and has single-handedly created every negative story ever written about him. It has nothing to do with right vs left, or elite vs working class. It has to do with terrible vs not terrible.

    Ford could easily dispel the whole mess by simply answering questions. He refuses to, and so another week of catch-the-Ford begins anew. The end result is going to be spectacular.

  19. Evisceration…by any other name!

  20. Barbara Amiel, this is the best article I’ve read about Rob Ford in the past few weeks. Finally, an intellectual approach to this madness that addresses the fact of the matter directly: the Star (rag tabloid that it is) has zero concrete evidence against Ford, yet slanders and sullies his name and gets a cop out with the terms, “alleged”, “purportedly”, “reportedly”. Ford should sue this tabloid journal to serve as a lesson to gutter “journalism”

    • He should if the story is a complete lie but notice that he hasn’t, or even threatened to.

      • He would be fighting with the left-wing radical douchebag Toronto Star forever in courts because they need to always make up nonsense about the mayor in order to support their adopted kids from every country, hipster beards and glasses, and rainbow flag waving friends.

        Clearly, the majority of Toronto love him: They elected him! And, he’s likely to win again next year. All hail the king, Rob Ford!!!!!!!!!!

        Toronto LOVES Rob Ford :-)

    • I agree with Wanda on this. I’m a lesbian woman, and I fully support the LGBT community, but the media are not fairly representing us. They make it seem like the gay population hates Rob Ford, when in fact WE ADORE ROB FORD. The vast majority of gay Toronto residents support and love Mayor Ford for all he has done to help save us tax payers money, and for all he has done to improve the Jarvis area. We really don’t care he doesn’t come to Pride, because he’s told us he supports us anyways.

      On behalf of all gay and lesbian Toronto citizens, thank you Mayor Ford!!!!!

      • This comment was deleted.

        • Dude, go back to sucking the peen. Lisa, Toronto is on your side. The LBGT love Rob Ford – period.

    • I am not a Toronto resident and not either Conservative or Liberal rather a pragmatist, whatever works. It would appear to me that the coverage of this is very biased and sensationalized by most of the media. If someone would just relate how they think his actions affect his ability to do his job and keep it to that instead of the nonsense. It may well be that he is not the man for the job everyone has the right to their opinion on that, but some the stuff that has been printed about him is nothing short of character assassination (fast food incident for one). Stick to the facts and how they affect him doing the job and you might get some respect for your opinions. I don’t always agree with Barbara but in this case she is right on

  21. Amazing. Someone comes out on the side opposite of the persecutors and they are attacked. Of course this is a left vs right thing. I’ll bet less than 5% of the anti Ford commenters here voted for him and want him out regardless of the reason. The alleged crack video just makes it juicier for them. Believing an American scandal based blog that is meant more for amusement than real news is laughable almost as laughable as believing a newspaper that has been committed to criticizing Ford from the day his nomination was announced. Speaking of laughing-the rest of North America is laughing at Toronto, not so much that your mayor is an alleged crackhead but for the fact that the media has been accepted as judge, jury and executioner.
    Take a reality pill and understand the mayor that was elected by a majority of voters is going nowhere unless the video shows up or you vote him out in the next election. Or you could take the next step that some of you seem to be heading towards and storm City Hall and drag Ford to the guillotine. In the meantime, keep up the ranting-it’s great theater.

    • I freely admit that I voted for him. And I disagree with you — I think he won’t quit even if the video surfaces.

      The spectre of the video and other related allegations still remain but those are almost secondary at this point. The heart of the story has become Ford’s reaction to the whole situation and the fallout from that. This has turned into a test-case of how not to handle a scandal, and many of Ford’s allies and staff have publicly distanced themselves from him. That’s why this story is so fascinating.

  22. If Rob Ford was an independent citizen, I agree, who cares? But I very much care if he is the mayor of my city. That, and this case appears to be much more insidious as we go. Murder, theft, breaking and entering, assault, conspiracy to cover up information, and so on and so forth. Perhaps you should re-evaluate what you care about.

  23. This whole story has nothing to do with Ford whatsoever – what this story is really about is the changing face of the media – now that everyone can be and is starting to actuallly think they are journalists and worse yet their opinions are in any ways relevant the lame stream media has amped up the dirt – good ol dirt – if it bleeds it leads! ther eason is simple money – the lame stream media needs revenues that rapidly disappearing faster than their stock issue on the exchange! Even serious journalists have sold their souls and are lining up to the trough faster than the politicians they criticize! – ever notice how often nowadays whenever a authority broadcasts a message the first thing you hear will be – but crtics say ? = ……. – this is they key rather than simply report the story and stay to the facts at hand we enter the realm of the hyper critic which one way or another willl meld with consensus on twitter or FB of all things – I wouldn’t vote for Ford before – but now were I living in TO I would vote for him out of spite! –

    • When parts of Rome were set ablaze in AD 64, Nero, on whose watch it happened, blamed it on the Christians. It was obvious that someone other than him and his immediate family should be held responsible for an act that some historians have laid at his feet. The Ford’s, through their own actions, have ignited a conflagration of political controversy that continues to consume far too much of the public’s attention. They lay the blame for it all on the Toronto Star et al. It’s always convenient to have a scapegoat. The vast left wing media conspiracy against them? Sure. Let’s go with that for the time being. But the old saying fits. “Where there’s smoke there’s fire.

  24. “There is said to be a tape showing Mayor Ford smoking crack cocaine. Who cares, would be my response, but that’s idiosyncratic.”

    Of course it’s “idiosyncratic”, not many people have had the privilege of passionately defending a husband convict with loads of entitled self-righteous indignation.

    • When people have served their time, then the time has been served on ALL sides.

  25. Highbrow Amiel and the lowbrow Fords in bed together…..

    Who knew?

  26. If electoral law says Rob Ford can stay in office even if he’s broken the law, so be it. I can wait until the next election. But I still think that citizens have a right to know if their elected officials are flouting the law, are hanging out with drug dealers, and have substance abuse problems which affect their judgement and behaviour. Given all the things we know about Rob Ford this whole story, sadly, seems all too plausible. And the story about Doug Ford is also relevant – it gives us context for understanding the Fords. And, by the way, if what the Globe said is true (and what has been rumoured for years) Doug was selling lots of Hash to other dealers. Not just the occasional baggie to friends. If it’s no big deal, then why not just admit it? Of course it`s relevant and Barbara Amiel is kidding herself to think otherwise. Not too long ago, Doug still thought he could be premier one day.

  27. If only the media went after Jack Layton and his nude massage the way they are going after Ford.

  28. Barbara:

    Just to let you know, DISQUS-blocking is the penalty MacLeans is bringing to bear on those commenters prepared to bring an incisive, if (justly) trenchant, critique of the apologetics journalists bring to the Ford ‘scandal’. The scandal is the degraded reporting catalyzed by John Cook’s absurd investigation, followed by a (now-abortive) crowdsourced campaign to buy a will-o-the-wisp video.

    Some of us are then forced to employ workarounds to say anything at all in these, or any other, comment sections; and other DISQUS-using media clients have a list of those who speak truth to power.

  29. Way out here on the Alberta/BC border we get the news too! Surprise surprise! what I’ve seen is the press hounding Rob Ford, and anybody associated with him,about whether or not he smoked crack. Oh, and the fact that his family may or may not have done or dealt drugs way back when they were teenagers or done stupid things every other kid does just to piss off their parents. He held a press conference asking the press to stop harrassing him and his family and their only response was ‘did you smoke crack cocaine.’ no video, any picture I’ve seen was an obvious cut/paste job.

    I never did like that holier than thou attitude the globe and mail had but now, I think they have sunk to the level of the National Enquirer, simply because Rob Ford doesn’t bow down to their bullying. perhaps its time to investigate the press as well unless they put up or shut up.

    oh, and why did his staff get fired or quit? I suspect its because they were leaking statements to the above garbage press.

  30. So smoking crack doesn’t raise questions about someone’s judgement?

    • So you’ve seen the video, then? No proof, no conviction.

  31. It would appear they are all on the Road to Perdition here. Mind you with the changing demographics of the Hogtown, it would appear the days of Chicago are quickly coming to an end. Or are they?

  32. Hooray for Rob Ford…..keep up the good work Buddy…….

  33. With the Ford’s in power, all the people who are doing things they shouldn’t be can justify their own lack of good character. The mayor and his brother are supposed to be the honest ones. This certainly isn’t how honest people with little to hide act. Who wrote this article again?

  34. I can’t imagine a dumber human being.

  35. To all the angry, negative response to this article, and to those who want to lynch….not just the Fords, but even the idea of the Fords….May you all be placed under the same scrutiny and unfounded accusations until your lives are ruined as well. Is this just part and parcel of a wholesale insurrection against anyone who the Main Stream Left Wing Media considers unfit for public office….whether they are duly elected or not. The voters of Toronto deserve better than this non stop Yellow Journalism.

    • What is unfounded about the accusations? Ford won’t explain why he hangs out with crack dealers. Does it help him reduce taxes? Does it help reduce the size of government?

      • Your’e okay with it because it’s not happening to you…..right blondy.

      • So you’ve seen the video then?

  36. Does it not concern anyone that if Ford is hanging around with drug people and allowing himself to be photographed with them he’s putting himself in a very uncompromising position and leaving himself open to blackmail and extortion?

  37. Pardon me, Ms. Amiel, but when did you last see a crack addict that wasn’t in a movie or television show?

  38. MacLean’s you need ratings or something? An average grade 7 student keeping up with current events could dismantel this article.

    • Since you clearly believe that a grade 7 student could dismantle this article, go ahead and give it a try or stfu!

  39. Fifteen years ago this story would have been an outrage that would span across partisan lines and likely warrant demands for a resignation whether you are a suburbanite or a downtown resident of Toronto. With 24/7 news coverage and the general public capturing footage from devices in their back pocket people seem to have a need to only believe reporting they can see. The reporting here by the Toronto Star was clear, precise and little reason to doubt . Sure the Star leans to one side of the political spectrum but that has always been the case both ways long before Rob Ford. It is unfortunate it takes an Americanized attitude not seen since the likes of Sara Palin and Michele Bachmann for Ford supporters to stomach and digest the municipal politics from their candidate. There is no need for the video . It looks ,quacks ,walks like a duck then……

  40. An expanded subway system that the other cities built eons ago – However, if Amiel paid attention to international transit trends she’d know that the big, bustling metropolis’ across the globe don’t build undergrounds anymore.

  41. A bunch of over-educated haters up in here… It is wrong to convict without evidence… we all know this. So stop! The media and everyone who keeps ballooning this issue have made Toronto an international joke…. again with no evidence…. 49% of Torontonians polled don’t even believe there is a video doctored or not! That is a fact and that is a newsworthy story…. Almost half of Toronto thinks the Toronto Star is flat out lying! That I am sure is not usual of any major city and their major newspapers.

  42. Indeed, why should we care? If it’s unimportant that the mayor of the largest city in Canada smokes crack, then we shouldn’t care. If it’s unimportant that the media prints outright lies then again we shouldn’t care. I feel that either situation is important. Someone has lied here, and Mr Ford providing a drug test would prove whom.

  43. This amounts to the wife one convicted corporate criminal defending the criminality of another….

  44. Well ,the globe and star did accomplish two things.I will be voting for Ford and will never subscribe to either paper, online or print.They showed us what real partisan activist yellow urnalism looks like.

  45. In my opinion, accredited ‘News’papers have become adulterated by reality TV and can’t resist the current demand for tabloid tactics to sell their product. Because that’s what the ‘NEWS’ has become, a product; Truth be damned. I feel disheartened that our society has gone down the rabbit hole and that our youth have no idea or concept of privacy or truth. True Journalism deals with FACTS and strives to back up their story with proof. The attacks on Ford have had the opposite affect on me. I feel for the guy, which is contrary to my political view. I suppose my back goes up when I smell a bully!

  46. The problem with this defense of Rob Ford is that it only gives half the story. On day one his ‘inaugeration’ consisted of Don Cherry, the most gayly dressed man in the country, condemning all the ‘left wing commie pinkos’. The mayor is not just the mayor, but for some bizarre reason is even allowed his own talk show-how is that not an election law? He is campaigning year round! And we find that his own staff was involved in blasting all these ‘left wing pinkos’.

    So really, WHO is responsible for their own political demise? This guy has been a circus since day one, and has a ‘tough on crime’ policy that capitulates to police salary demands without negotiation. So now there is allegations he may have broken a law. That kind of hypocrisy DESERVES this media attention.

    Whether it is ‘over the top’ I don’t know. What I remember is that Doug Gilmour asked to be traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs because he could not go anywhere in Toronto without being mobbed, such is our infatuation with celebrity, no less than in tinseltown. So that it extends to a media hog of a mayor is not surprising. I don’t remember this talk about ‘too much attention’ when Ford made such a fanfare about going on a diet.
    What is WAY over the top is idiotic statements like denying Ford is on crack because the author for some reason knows lots of skinny crack addicts. I suspect she may be confusing them with heroin addicts though. And HER ‘not caring’ whether Ford does drugs is kind of unsettling. I don’t care about ANY political stories, but Ford somehow has always seemed to be in the news even before this happened in talking about policies. In short, I don’t expect media to ONLY report on what I care about.
    I’ve seen LOTS of stories in MacLeans that I’ve thought “why are they reporting on this?” But they have their reasons. I suspect that right now the point is that stories on Rob Ford SELLS PAPERS. Which means canadians want to read about it. Argue THAT if you want, but thats a different argument than whether its ‘over the top’.

  47. im annoyed with the Toronto Star, this is all a publicity stunt, they need to drop this.

  48. In light of the events of the past week, this article is downright hilarious. Lady Black of Crossharbour should thank her lucky stars that Sue-Ann Levy exists, because otherwise, she would be the worst journalist in the country.

  49. Lunch at the Coffee Mill and a little retail relaxation?

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