Toronto Mayor Rob Ford cancels radio show as video story goes viral
Published Saturday, May 18, 2013 6:23PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, May 19, 2013 10:14PM EDT
Toronto’s embattled Mayor Rob Ford will not be behind the microphone this Sunday for his two-hour radio show to respond to allegations that he was recorded on video allegedly smoking crack cocaine.
Ford, who hosts the weekly Sunday talk show “The City” with his brother Doug, abruptly cancelled this week’s segment . The decision was made Friday after news of the story broke Thursday night on U.S. gossip website Gawker. The Toronto Star published its own version of the story, saying that two of its reporters were shown an approximately 90-second video allegedly showing Ford smoking from a glass pipe.
In response to the reports, Ford suggested Friday the Toronto Star has a vendetta against him, and he said the allegations are “ridiculous” and “absolutely not true.”
Star reporter Robyn Doolittle said the people who showed her and her colleague Kevin Donovan the video wanted $100,000 for it, but the Star did not pay them and did not obtain a copy of the video.
The video's authenticity has not been substantiated.
Ford’s denials haven’t stopped the story from going viral around the world. Fox News, USA Today and New York Magazine were among some of the U.S. based media outlets that ran coverage of the Canadian news story.
Many commentators used it as an opportunity to review the mayor’s previous political gaffes, adding their own comedic spin to the scandal.
The New York Times and the BBC, two of the world’s most respected media outlets, carried the story on Friday, choosing to focus on the reporting.
In the BBC’s story, Ford’s reactions to the allegations were the main focus. He was quoted saying the allegations were “ridiculous” and that The Star was “going after” him.
The New York Times ran a longer piece, digging into Fords’s political career and describing him as a mayor “dogged by controversy over his often boorish behavior and less than diligent attention to work.”
Other news organizations focused on the approximately 90-second video itself. In The Guardian’s story, a description of what the two Star journalists said they saw in the video is reported. CNN also took the descriptive route, taking direct quotes from The Star’s report.
Many news organizations also mined the story for its comedic value, using it as a way to remind their readers of Ford’s past political blunders. In the Atlantic Wire, a timeline of the “lowlights of Ford’s illustrious nonsense” is complete with YouTube videos and less than complimentary pictures.
Slate pushed the comedic boundaries a little further, comparing Ford with the fictional mayor Diamond Joe Quimby from the cartoon The Simpsons. “Both men are heavyset. Both are often at odds with constituents, colleagues, and the press. And both are prone to saying outrageous things in public.”
Some used the story to draw parallels between Ford and Marion Barry, the former Washington, D.C. mayor who was caught smoking crack on video almost two decades ago. In Politico, a U.S. based news group, a picture of Barry is featured prominently underneath the headline “Pundits see Rob Ford-Marion Barry connection.” The similarities between the two stories also drew some creative tweets. NBC news reporter Chuck Todd tweeted on Friday: “This Toronto mayor story giving me my favorite DC flashback. My first summer in DC, was Barry Barry funny. #setmeup”
In the Washington City Paper, reporter Will Sommer took a more direct approach with the comparison, asking Barry for his take on the Ford story.
Barry, a former civil rights activist who was caught smoking in 1990 as part of an FBI sting, said his own videotape incident was not the same. “Unless he was entrapped by the government, it’s not similar,” Barry said in the article.
Barry, who is now a Washington D.C. councillor, served six months behind bars in a federal prison. The scandal did not seem to dent his political career. Much like Ford, whose political gaffes have not cost him his job, Barry was able to return to the mayoralty in 1994, serving from 1995 to 1999.
Since news of Friday’s story broke, Gawker has launched a crowdsourcing campaign to raise the $200,000 needed to purchase the video.
Approximately $62,000 was raised on the website Indiegogo by Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.
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