Did You Know It Was Rob Ford’s Birthday?

Rob_Ford_Mayoral_Candidates_Forum_June_2010
(Photo “courtesy” of Wikimedia Commons)

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by Kolby Solinsky

So Sue Me, White Cover Magazine

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Today is Rob Ford’s birthday. He turns… something years old. It doesn’t really matter, because Rob Ford is always in the news and Rob Ford has absolutely been in the news lately, and none of it has had anything to do with his birthday, although it does give me a news hook and a reason to write about him (as if I needed one).

I’ve tried to write something about him several times in the past two weeks, although I normally start and then realize how little it’s doing – how futile it is that someone would (or should) read anything I (or anyone else) had to say about the portly mayor of Toronto.

What can I say about Rob Ford that is already far too obvious to need explaining? One time, he said something about Asian people and their work ethic, and it was offensive. Another time, he tried to tackle the topic of AIDS and gay “rights” at the same time, and it was offensive. He also took a photo with a neo-Nazi in full Kristallnacht-looking regalia, and it was offensive.

One time, he tried to throw a football… and it was offensive.

(It’s not hard to make a timeline of Ford’s worst – or best, depending on your POV – public moments, which the Toronto Star graciously took the time to put together in a full list of 42 separate incidents.)

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(By the way, after watching that clip from CBC’s The National above, can we all please agree to email the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and other ‘legitimate’ news sources and tell them to stop referring to Gawker or other sites like it as “an American blogger”? In the past few years, Gawker and its affiliate sites have broken some of the biggest news stories in the world and the CBC, CNN, NBC, and other large TV networks have parroted their work and re-appropriated them under an older and more bureaucratic journalistic banner. Isn’t about time Gawker gets some credit for all the material it’s writing for the rest of us?)

Every week, something seems to happen with Rob Ford and it’s almost always completely his own doing.

The past fortnight, though, has been different. There’s an update to the “Crackstarter” thing every few minutes, which makes writing anything about Ford even harder, unless of course you’re writing it at 3 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (which I am right now).

Turn on the TV – no matter where you live in Canada, or the United States even – and you can expect to see something fresh about Ford and his cabinet, Ford and his possible drug habits, or Ford and a tape that might prove his drug habits.

Then, you can expect anyone not at the Toronto Star or Gawker to preempt their televised story with the phrase, “We should add, we have not seen the tape.”

It took Ford over a week (eight days) to say he hadn’t smoked crack cocaine, but that phrase that we were all waiting for aroused even more suspicion-slash-laughter when he phrased it in the present tense, not the past.

“I do not use crack cocaine,” he said. “Nor am I an addict of crack cocaine.”

(Gawker very quickly put a story up, the first line reading, “Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who has smoked crack cocaine…”)

And now, Nick Denton’s new media conglomerate has raised $200,000 on Indiegogo, the online crowd-sourcing and fundraising social network, to pay a drug dealer for his video that supposedly shows Ford smoking crack cocaine. Debate has surrounded the thrust of the campaign, with most debating whether or not it’s right or wrong for Gawker to ask people to pool together that much cash to pay a drug dealer for his product (in this case, his product is the video tape, not his normal product).

Really, though, those people have chosen to spend their money. “The Dude abides, man,” Jeff Bridges might say in the late Nineties. The only issue I can see is, Gawker could clearly afford to pay for the video themselves, unless Denton is lying about his company’s fortune or cash flow. (But, really, this is Gawker… they’re always honest, right?)

Rob Ford has had a very bad week, but he’s huffed and puffed, denied and bluffed his way through much of it. It took him eight days to be open about a very public and persistent rumour and, when he was open about it, he couldn’t even work his language well enough to put the matter to rest.

His response to members of the media – many of whom are just reporting facts and what they’ve heard for their readers and viewers without an agenda – was less than diplomatic.

“Bunch of maggots,” he called them, the media. Forget the fact he himself was on his brother Doug Ford’s radio show and, I guess, didn’t realize they were at that point two members of the media.

His brother, Doug, has had maybe even a worse week, if that’s possible. His staffers are dropping like Platypuses. If anything comes from the crowd-sourced $200,000 or this video that we currently only have the word of The Star and Gawker to rely on, Ford’s third week under siege will certainly be worst than the first or the second.

So, happy birthday, Mr. Ford. Why not, right?