What to make of what Rob Ford said - Macleans.ca

What to make of what Rob Ford said

Toronto mayor’s denial lobs the ball back to the media


(Chris Young, The Canadian Press)

“Toodle-oo!!!” Toronto Mayor Rob Ford told reporters through the window of his Cadillac Escalade in city hall’s basement parking lot this afternoon, enunciating it in such a way that underscored how that form of adieu rhymes with another phrase, one that’s two words, begins with “F” and ends with “U.”

Ford was rolling away after his exquisite performance before a battery of cameras and frustrated reporters, a press conference appearance wherein he actually did what he failed spectacularly at doing for a week—he talked—and which may well put an end to the dogged media pursuit he’s been shouldering since Gawker editor John Cook first alleged he saw a video showing him smoking crack.

“I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine,” he said (neglecting in that denial, as many would later point out, the use of the word “never”).” As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or does not exist.”

Related stories:

Ford had shaved his hair to a dramatic, Yul Brynner-esque finish, no doubt in a bid to broadcast a crackless asceticism. It misfired, somewhat, recalling the hairless, decadent Marlon Brando as Kurtz in Apocalypse Now.

Nothing more, really, needed to be said. Those gathered in the hazy atmospheric crush inside the presser room at city hall thought either he might resign, or that he would give voice to that unspoken defiance he’d been presenting them with for seven whole and exhausting days. Ford chose the latter, and spoke his words clearly, with a muted fury, and in a way that conveyed a strange certainty no video would soon emerge (either because he has never smoked crack or knows it is impossible that one will ever surface).

There’s something attractive about defiance, a deeply rooted appeal, and you can imagine the climactic scene of some weird urban-gangsta-sandal-and-sword film mixture in which one Spartacus after another stands up to the Romans and shouts, “I do not use crack cocaine!” “Nor, I, I am not a crack user!” “Me too, no crack here!”

With their press conference, the Fords (Doug, the mayor’s councillor brother, spoke after Rob walked away from the podium and out the door), have lobbed the ball into the media’s court. It’s up to them to keep this story, true or not, alive.

But provided news organizations don’t over the coming days bring forward new evidence, the Fords may still beat all this. The news conference was designed to appease those who were beginning to stray—political allies (Doug Holyday, the deputy mayor, stood beside Rob today) as well as their largely suburban Ford Nation base.

Some people need only the slightest excuse to turn away from what others take to be self-evident.


What to make of what Rob Ford said

  1. pathetic. Now it all goes away? I think not. Stay on the story. Yesterday his staff practically did an intervention on him, today “there’s nothing to see here folks”?? Grrr.

    • I think you’re closer to the right idea than the article above. At least one MacLean’s writer backfired pretty badly on this one (see “Tough questions for the Toronto Star’), this could easily be number two.

    • Gossip. Unfounded statements.

    • Like his addiction to crack cocaine, Ford will find that this scandal will not go away so easily… He is the Marion Barry of Toronto. Like Barry, the only thing people will remember of Ford decades from now was that he was caught on video smoking crack.

      • People will remember how popular he remained, in spite of his various shortcomings.

        • Good one.

    • You people are hilarious!!!

      First: why doesn’t he deny, why doesn’t he say anything, it looks bad…blah, blah, blah…

      Second: (after no video appears) the video doesn’t matter, he has a track record, let’s stone him anyways, it has nothing to do with politics

      Third: (after the denial) he’s a liar, let’s still stone him anyways

      Maybe, just maybe, if you’d all come back to reality you’d look at the situation from a little less hateful point of view and put your stones back on the ground.

      But, no – you’ve too much hate invested into ford to actually wait for real evidence, much better to act now!

      As I’ve said before, if he is actually a crack head and this video is true – then Toronto truly deserves such a mayor as it is clear that his supporters are OK with him and his opponents no better* than him. A match made in heaven!

      *oh, did I judge Toronto too harshly, oh well – it seems to be the thing to do!

      • Wah, Wah, wah. Ford has brought all of this on himself. He is a lightening rod for controversy.

        • No, he is a target for leftie attacks because he is a conservative and the lefties just can’t comprehend how a conservative can be mayor in Toronto.

          Chalk it up to mental problems of the left, not to Ford asking for it!

    • Rob Ford had his inner circle and a lawyer to help prepare the wording of his speech – and this wording is very important, especially if you do not plan to take questions, and/or elaborate. It was important for him to say there could not be any video with him in the company of drug dealers, with a pipe in his mouth, as he has never done crack, nor does he hang out with drug dealers. But, he didn’t exactly say that. If he is innocent (and I hope he is), then his lawyer and inner circle should be fired for a speech that left a lot of loose ends, and may have made him look like he is hiding something.

  2. I’m not sure, but wouldn’t him shaving his head aviod the possibility of folical testing for drug use? A simple drug test on day 2 of this scandal would have cleared everything up. If I was in his position, I wouldn’t want to take a drug test on an accusation, but a negotive test would have made the Star and Gawker look silly.

    • Just what I was thinking. Urine and/or saliva tests can only detect drugs that were ingested in the last few days. Hair would be required to prove whether drugs had been ingested weeks or months in the past.

    • What if Ford uses other substances that would be picked up by a drug test (like marijuana, which he certainly has used before). If so it might make more sense for Ford to wait for the actual video to manifest before a drug test.

    • Why should the Mayor submit to any kind of test, unless the video magically appears? Without the video, all claims are merely vindictive gossip.

      • If I were him, i sure would. It would make Gawker and the star look like fools. He’d be a pesecuted hero and his supporters would increase in numbers. He’d be the mayor that fought off the liberal media and won.

  3. As I predicted. No matter what he said or does it will be twistrd by themedia. NO = MAYBE = YES . All over unsubstsantiated information from questionable sources and with no way of making the information available for validation.

    The media has lost its integrity.

    • If this is all a media fabrication, the ever combative Rob Ford should have launched the largest defamation suit in Canadian history with his presser today. Instead, he made non-denials about prior crack smoking, intimated that is was a Star frame-up without mentioning the story broke with Gawker, reminded everyone that he is a poor victim by trotting out his removal as a football coach, and failed to address why his former chief of staff counselled that Ford’s options were “fight and lose, resign, or go to rehab.” On this last point, this is advice that you only give a mayor who is guilty of the serious allegations of smoking crack and uttering slurs.


        • Three reporters witnessed the same video. His fmr chief of staff believed the reports, otherwise he would have counselled deny ASAP and sue, which he did not. Not gossip, no matter whether you type it in caps.

  4. Even Ford’s former chief of staff believed the Toronto Star/Gawker story given that he counselled Ford either fight and lose, resign, or go to rehab.

    Regardless of whether a tape emerges or not, the evidence is damning. Three respected journalists from two different news outlets witnessed identical behaviours from Rob Ford. Ford has still not said he has never smoked crack, nor has he explained why he is pictured partying with men associated with the crack trade.

    In his press conference, he disingenuously attempted to repeat the falsehood that the story came only from the star, while his brother avoided questions about Gawker’s role. They would like Torontonians to believe that either the Toronto Star framed Ford, or that crack dealers have greater skills with special effects than George Lucas (take your pick) rather than the more likely scenario that Rob Ford is an addict who utters homophobic slurs and holds racist views towards the minorities he once coached.

    In dragging this circus on for the time he has, he has opened the city up to severe ridicule and disdain. He has lost any trust Torontonians had that he was a decent man. Instead, he seems dangerously impulsive, selfish, and unfit to lead our city. He must go.

    • That’s a bit harsh. The evidence is suspicious, but hardly all the way to damning.

      • Not harsh at all. Damning yes. If the reporters had poor reputations, and the two news outlets colluded in some way, then what they wrote could be dismissed outright. The fact that one of Rob Ford’s most trusted and close advisors believed the Star story rather than whatever Rob Ford told his staffers is impossible for Ford supporters to ignore or explain away.

  5. Surprised the columnist doesn’t emphasize how carefully, and deceptively this is written. By saying “I don’t use crack cocaine” he is not at all denying he has in the past, up to earlier that day. That’s intentional, and it’s why he refuses follow-up questions. I mean, I can say I don’t work in a factory. I’m not a factory worker who gets his money from working in a factory. I still could have worked in one for 20 years and retired last week!

    As for the video comment, even more ‘brilliant’. “As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or does not exist.” Can you not see the carefully placed “or”? He says he can’t place comments on something he hasn’t seen OR he can’t place comments on something that doesn’t exist. He does not deny its existence. He just doesn’t comment on things he hasn’t seen or things that don’t exist. The video can be either/or!

    I sure hope the press doesn’t believe that was a good enough “denial” that he can move on. He’s not denying anything actually, except that he doesn’t use crack at the moment, without defining the length for the “moment”. He also won’t comment on videos he hasn’t seen. No questions! Wow. If that’s qualifies as finally answering questions, then Rob must be a genius. By running all week, he’s lowered the bar to ankle-high as to how decisively one needs to answer allegations. Deceptive non-answer, no questions: This reporter thinks the press needs the tape now or we just move on?

  6. Another conclusion may be that Ford has somehow acquired the video himself and has destroyed the “evidence.” After all, he probably knows who they were. End of story… maybe.

    • Maybe he and Doug paid for it, (they sure seem to have plenty of connections in the drug world), but it’s quite likely his police pals also helped out. Truth will out.

  7. i believe you rob just like i believe stephen harper and puff the magic dragon lives by the sea…

    • Harper’s environmental policies killed Puff actually

      • I thought it was the lax environemtal protection of our rivers that created magic dragons. Maybe I should stay away from the alberta bottled water…

  8. i’ve been through the range of emotions: I’m sorry, I’m frustrated,
    I’m extremely angry about it, but first I was nervous, then anxious, then wary and a little gassy, then sorry, then frustrated, then apprehensive, then
    kinda sleepy, then worried, and then concerned. But now I realize that
    being a spaceman is something you have to do..
    Stephen Harper.

  9. Actions speak louder than words. His silence says he did it. The lack of lawsuits says he doesn’t want people testifying under oath.

    • But the Star was masterful in the way they brought the story without any hard evidence. All they said was that their reporters saw a video; they carefully made sure they didn’t buy the video themselves and make it public on their website. That would have been evidence and actionable; instead they provided only unsubstantiated innuendo. By not meeting regular journalistic standards (i.e. by not having any collaboration), the Star has hurt their own credibility, even if Ford turns out to be a crack user. Had they applied this lack of standards to all their stories over the years, I doubt they’d exist today.

  10. Get a hold of some of the hair that was cut from his bloated head.

    Test it.

  11. So who was posing with two dealers in the still photograph all over the media then? I don’t think John Cook ‘alleges’ he saw a video. He clearly stated that fact. Re read Gawker please. Curious coincidences for both ‘coaching football’ and identifiable hoodie. What about those facts? Let the denial continue. It’s entertaining
    BTW: Toronto’s best hope is still Clayton Ruby. Remember Clayton Ruby to appeal Rob Ford’s conflict-of-interest decision

    • I don’t recall reading or hearing that the photo is a frame from the video.

      • The photo came from the same people who showed the video to the Gawker editor.

  12. The video seller has gone to ground. Has Rob paid the 200K and has the video now? Is that what probably took him the week to do while remaining silent?

  13. Put up or shutup. Show me the video!!! I smell a monstrous libel law suit coming. Maybe enough of a suit to shut down the Toronto Star forever. Would anybody miss that rag?

    • The RED STAR would be missed by the same needy dependent and ethnic types who voted for Obama – and the PC socialist Elitists.

  14. The Toronto Star has said that it is impossible to insert a person’s image into a video – have they never heard of rotoscoping?

  15. Well if it is true or NOT … and if NOT that is a sad statement about “Gawker editor John Cook first alleged he saw a video showing him smoking crack” and The Toronto Star .. butt if it is … Well to the Voting Citizens of Toronto … YAH GOT WHAT YOU VOTED FOR … and NOW the REAL Business that Toronto City Hall Staff and Council SHOULD BE doing is NOW stalling ….. congrats to ALL that VOTED HIM IN TO OFFICE…

  16. Can the Fords afford to buy the video? Do they know the folks who have it?

  17. It’s seemingly obvious Ford has paid the guy off and isn’t worrying about “being exposed” anymore!

  18. It took him 7 days to buy the video himself and now he thinks it will never come out which is why he spoke. This story will never end until copies of this video (which I’m sure there are some out there) come out.

  19. I say just believe in your self that you did not do what every they say I have trust in you all you have to do is just do your job and keep up the good work they all can go to hell all they want is to bring you down do let them you have my vote.!!!!!!

  20. Ford is still superior to his socialist scheming and undermining opponents on council. Their wasteful antics and milking of the public teat are far more distressing than any piccadilo by Ford even if factual.

  21. At first, he did not deny that he smoked crack. He called the story ridiculous, but didn’t deny it. Now he says that he does not smoke crack and that he isn’t a crack addict (both in the present tense). That is going to lead most people to believe that was him in the video, especially when you consider that it is nearly impossible to create a convincing fake Rob Ford for a video.

    • Son …. ridiculous = deny …

  22. O-M-G Why can’t they just leave this man alone. What do they want from him,his blood/job what??.One thing after another.Now they’re digging up his past as a younster in school.
    This is BULLYING ,not that nonesense in school with kids.Some people don;t know the words like taunt,tease or joke around everything is bullying.Some of them need a life and stop the HARRASMENT.Let him do his job.

  23. Is it just me or does this remind you of another Politican who said with a straight face I DID NOT HAVE SEXUAL INTERCOURSE WITH THAT WOMAN,,,,,,, as he smoked his cigar

  24. I never thought of it – but the notion of Ford purchasing the damning video really tickles my fancy! Hope it’s true. GO FORD!

  25. I thought we lived in a country where we needed evidence for a conviction. The Toronto Star says the evidence is a video they do not have, do not know who has it, and do not know if it was a fake. No court outside of possibly North Korea would convict or even lay a charge on such flimsy hearsay. This is a definite change in the Canadian media – a change for the worse.

  26. Would you leave this man and his family alone for crumb sake?? Enough is enough! The media is so annoying! The Star is no better than the National Enquirer!!

    • Regardless of what your think of Ford, the role of media has dramatically changed from the past. It used to report the news … now it seems they are drifting towards creating it …. what happened to their integrity ?

  27. the question i ask is, “how has ford done as a mayor? is toronto better or worse for what he has done on the job?’. i think he has been a dismal failure, all scandals aside. he ran on a very ambitious platform, based on claims of integrity, the average guy….and he has not delivered, period.

  28. This can be settled very quickly. Someone needs to pressure Ford into a drug test.

  29. I think he should be out of office and never get voted in anywhere in the GTA and also his brother.