Following last week’s confrontation, the mayor came face-to-face once again with the Toronto Star reporter at this morning’s weekly weigh-in.
Outside of the mayor’s office on the second floor of City Hall, an industrial-sized scale serves as the stage for a weekly spectacle. Given that Rob Ford’s highly publicized weigh-ins provide local media with rare access to the mayor—who limits his availability strategically—journalists have come to cherish this open forum.
Each week, 20-odd journalists and photographers patiently wait for the mayor’s appearance, fenced behind a blue velvet rope. He’s frequently late (last week, he showed up at 1 p.m. for an appearance originally scheduled for 9:30 a.m.) and while he answers some questions, he responds to others by quickly dashing back into his office. Sometimes, nutritionists show up to pitch the mayor on their plan or products, or women in lettuce bikinis show up on behalf of PETA to pitch vegetarianism. The latter incident was sarcastically referred to as “our profession’s finest hour” by one veteran journalist as he walked away.
The focal point of this week’s episode was mild-mannered Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale, whom Ford encountered in a public park behind his house on May 2. Ford promised not to speak to any scrum involving a Toronto Star reporter, but Dale and City Hall Bureau Chief David Rider were front and centre today, Blackberries and recorders in hand.
Ford has had a famously fraught relationship with Canada’s largest paper (also The Grid‘s parent company). Ever since a controversial July 2010 investigative story—which alleged Ford physically confronted a football player he coached—the mayor has refused to speak with the Star. His office excludes the paper from official communications like press releases and he regularly derides the Star in the press.
But as the media waited for this morning’s weigh-in—the mayor and his brother Doug were running late—Dale received support from the horde of journalists and passing councillors.
One councillor checked in to make sure Dale was feeling alright, and fellow councillor Janet Davis was taken aback by the throng of over 30. (“Holy cow! This is the largest yet.”) Giorgio Mammoliti walked by and called himself “208 pounds of fun.”
The journalists carried on the banter, killing time by talking about the Leafs (“Phaneuf is a pylon”), showing off colourful, purple-striped socks above alligator-leather shoes, and trading Hot Docs stories (the one about an Icelandic penis museum was apparently interesting but strange).
After all the mundane and absurd stories had been shared, journalists took photos of other journalists—particularly Dale—and this Charlie Kaufman-esque scene of layered self-reflexivity was complete.
Half an hour after the scheduled time, Mayor Ford rushed out to do his weigh-in. Amid a supermoon of flash photography, his every move was captured and questions were asked about Dale. While Doug Ford answered, saying Dale is a good guy thrown under the bus by the Star, the mayor briskly walked back into his office.
After the media finished tweeting Ford’s new weight (up four pounds to 314, if it matters), they turned to Dale for a comment. He said the Star has only been supportive of him and called the situation “surreal.”
And now? “Time to get back to work.”