BY DAVID HAINS
Last week, as a chorus of newspapers, organizations, and political allies called on Rob Ford to step aside, his brother Doug offered a spirited defence of the beleaguered mayor. Three times he called him “the most honest politician in Canada” as a way of burnishing Rob’s credibility.
But Doug was nowhere to be seen earlier this afternoon, when Rob Ford faced a crush of reporters and finally admitted, “Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine.” He then proceeded to blame the media for the delayed confession, claiming, “I wasn’t lying. You didn’t ask the correct questions.”
Well, here are six occasions where Rob Ford could have cleared the air, but chose not to (presumably because no one said the magic word).
April-May 2013: For serious allegations like the ones raised in the Toronto Star‘s crack-video story, journalists are obligated to give subjects a chance to respond. They have a responsibility to outline the various charges contained in the story like, “Have you smoked crack cocaine” and give the individual or institution an opportunity to corroborate or rebut the claim. Before publishing their story on May 16, the Toronto Star contacted Ford 14 times to respond. He did not.
May 17, 2013: In a scrum immediately after news of the crack video broke, the mayor was asked, “Are the allegations true?” He responded by saying, “It’s ridiculous,” which is a statement that is technically true although not the way the mayor means it. He then rushed into his office.
May 24, 2013: Rob Ford holds his first press conference since the crack-scandal broke eight days earlier. He gives the infamous non-denial denial “I cannot comment on a video I have not seen or does not exist” in a defiant presser in which he blames the Toronto Star for shoddy journalism. After he speaks, the Star‘s Daniel Dale shouts, “Have you ever used crack cocaine?” The mayor turns away and walks back into his office, and his brother takes questions.
May 26, 2013: People who call into Rob Ford’s Newstalk 1010 radio show are generally a sympathetic bunch when it comes to the mayor’s failings, but “Pam from Scarborough” (not her actual name or location) had some questions on the first broadcast after the scandal broke.
“Mayor Ford, is that you in the Gawker video, and is that you photographed with your arm around drug dealer Anthony Smith?”
The mayor responds, but he’s not all that confident:
“Number one, there’s no video, so that’s all I can say. You can’t comment on something that doesn’t exist. And I take pictures with everybody. Um, everywhere I go, as of last night, I take pictures with everyone, so, uh….”
Then, Rob and Doug accuse the caller of being a racist because he was in a photo with minorities, and they say they don’t like racism.
Nov. 3, 2013: Alex MacDonald calls in to the mayor’s weekly radio show and says, “For myself, and I think a lot of people in Toronto, what we really are hoping for is a comment about—and I realize you can’t comment on a video you haven’t seen—but you do know what drugs you’ve ingested through a glass pipe. And so without seeing the video I think you can reveal that information to the people of Toronto, and I think that’s what you need to do.”
Rob gives his standard, evasive response: “I appreciate the question Alex, but again, I can’t comment on a video I have not seen.”
Nov. 4, 2013: Rob launched his political career by doing segments with John Oakley on AM 640. He was able to rant about all sorts of politicians’ failings, real or perceived, and from this platform the future mayor built what he now refers to as “Ford Nation.” However, he wasn’t feeling their warm embrace on Monday morning.
John Oakley: Have you used crack? Have you used crack?
Rob Ford: I’m not a drug addict.
John Oakley: Have you used crack?
Rob Ford: Johnny, listen. I’m not an addict. I’m not an alcoholic.
John Oakley: Oh, addiction is one thing.
Rob Ford: If I had a problem, I’d be more than happy to be the first one to say, “I’m not fit to run this city.” I can assure you, I can assure you Johnny, I do not use drugs.
Photo: Vince Talotta/Toronto Star