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Monday, January 6, 2014

A look back at 2013, Part I: the Rob Ford story

The Canadian mainstream media’s attention was pretty well fixated on the various antics (and there were some dillies) of Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford, for much of the last half of 2013. The public has a right to know and all that.

It was clearly Mayor Fords own fault, of course. After all, he seems to have confirmed as true the various rumours and allegations that dogged him in the first half of 2013—most of which he had vehemently denied earlier.

Imagine that: a politician who lies when first confronted about some embarrassing or incriminating event or situation and later reverses course and admits the whole thing. I’m shocked.

At the same time, who in their right mind wants a liar for a chief magistrate of the largest city in the land? Ford says he didn’t lie—the media just didn’t ask the right question, he claims. Thank goodness my kids outgrew that sort of silly word-game argument when they were about twelve years of age…or was it when they were nine? Apparently, Mayor Ford thinks we Canadians are idiots.

Ford’s behaviour was inexcusable on any level and may even have been criminal, and if doing the right thing really mattered to him, he would probably have resigned months ago. I can’t think of any rational or reasonable excuse that could make his behaviour tolerable. Admitting to being “in a drunken stupor” and smoking crack cocaine begs the question: just what does he consider acceptable behaviour for Toronto’s mayor?

That all being said, I believe the behaviour of the mainstream media—especially that of The Toronto Star—regarding the Rob Ford story was appalling. Rob Ford was targeted the day he was elected—how dare a right-of-centre politician take office in leftie Toronto, eh?

And what of the mayor’s family? Doesn’t the media realize he does not live alone and camping out on his lawn and driveway hurts them as much as anyone. What is their wrongdoing?

Or how about Mayor Ford being ambushed early in the morning by the CBC’s loudmouth Mary Walsh filming 22 Minutes? I’ve heard this program referred to as satirical news, but that’s something CBC producers call their shows when they know they are in poor taste. I’ve seen Mary Walsh in action as Marg Delahunty, Princess Warrior, and didn’t find it particularly amusing.

Would Mary Walsh and her CBC crew like Rob Ford to ambush them early in the morning in the driveways of their private homes while brandishing a plastic sword and intimidating their children, or would they feel that was crossing some sort of line of accepted decency? But perhaps they wouldn’t mind…perhaps they have no concept of accepted decency.

Furthermore, there have been attempts, at least, on the cable news political shows to tarnish Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s name by linking him to the Rob Ford story. Fortunately, this tactic has not found much traction, as far as I can tell.

Even Chantal Hébert—usually a favourite journalist of mine—can’t seem to help piling on. In a piece in The Toronto Star, the headline is: “Rob Ford making ex-Montreal mayor look good…”. Really?

Amid allegations and accusations of widespread corruption involving tens of thousands of dollars coming out of a public judicial inquiry for several months, a year ago the mayor of Montreal resigned (his former municipal political party disbanded) and his replacement was arrested, and we are told that Rob Ford makes the ex-mayor “look good.”

Wow. Life may not be fair, but surely we should expect, at least, a minimum amount of balance in reportage on such a serious subject. Nothing that Mayor Ford has done or is alleged to have done—at least that I have heard about—rises to the level of widespread corruption and collusion we have heard about from the Charbonneau commission in Quebec. Nothing! Yet, according to Toronto media Rob Ford is making Montreal’s disgraced ex-mayor look good. This about takes the proverbial cake.

I’m no fan of Rob Ford, but can’t we get some basic fairness in our political coverage?

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  1. No mention of course of Mayor Fontana who has actually been charged with criminal acts, but of course he is a lefty.

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