I’ve doubted the veracity of this one from the moment the story broke. Gawker.com is a gossip website in the United States, and broke it; the editor writing a story describing his encounter with the source in a sketchy party of the city, and the video’s contents as well.
That produced an expected buzz on social media, and forced the Toronto Star’s hand to publish the day after gawker, and well before they had validated the video. The Star’s record hasn’t been the best on the Ford file; the last story had quotes from unnamed sources backing up a photo from an ex-mayoral candidate found on Facebook.
Anyone with the technology and software can fake a video. If it’s fake, then it’s fairly easy to prove; there have to be original files out there somewhere. Open it up with editing software and likely you can see where the clips were cut, photos were inserted etc. I don’t understand why Ford didn’t just say categorically: “It wasn’t me in the video; I have never smoked crack. I’m going to sue the Toronto Star, and gawker.com for libel.”
Five days later and he hasn’t said a word other than it’s ridiculous. It leaves a vacuum being filled by speculation, and more nasty gossip. At this point he has three options: 1. Admit it’s true, announce he’s stepping down to seek treatment. Option 2: Come up with another logical explanation as to how he might have been in the company of drug dealers, or 3. Categorically deny the allegations, then sue the pants off the Toronto Star, and gawker.com.
If I were him, I’d go with option one or three. People are surprisingly understanding, and could easily identify with the “flawed” mayor. I believe he’d win if he chose to run again. His ugliest laundry will have aired, and there’d be nothing left for his opponents to throw at him. Maybe he’s planning an exit strategy. It could explain the fact we’ve heard more from Doug Holyday over the last few days than Ford.
Option three would be hazardous. Ford wouldn’t just be on trial on for these allegations, he’d be on trial for everything else he’s allegedly done over the last 2.5 years. The flip side would be both gawker.com and the Toronto Star would have to answer some questions themselves. Questions such as: How legal is it to consult with alleged “drug dealers” for a story? How ethical is it? What role does social media play in conventional journalism? What role should it play? Why repeatedly go after someone over personal issues when there are perfectly good policy-related issues to get him on? The discussion they could start on journalistic ethics and standards alone, is endless. But if a lawsuit is the only way to send a statement, then why not? Ford would win I think; he has enough to prove a personal campaign against him by now.
The video needs to come out one way or another, and there needs to be a reaction. Otherwise this story won’t end, the speculation and media circus will continue. Toronto deserves better than that.