Over the past fortnight I – all of us who live in the Greater Toronto Area – have been subjected to an interesting spectacle.. Just over two weeks ago two media outlets – www.gawker.com and the Toronto Star – went public with independent stories that their reporters had seen cell-phone video of the mayor of Toronto (Rob Ford) smoking what appeared to be crack cocaine. His refusal to address the issue beyond a very quick statement that it was ridiculous has essentially put him at war with most of the media – not to mention the butt of jokes of comics and talk show hosts around the world.
I do not live in Toronto; I live in Oakville, a city about 30 minutes west of Toronto where our mayor, Mr. Rob Burton, is a very well respected man whom I am proud to have voted for not because he is a casual friend, but because he is good for Oakville. He is likeable, he knows how to work with others, and he has been successful in his position. During the next municipal elections I will vote for him again, and not for Rob Ford, for the simple reason of geography.
With that being said, the spectacle of the past seventeen days has been a real show; Mayor Ford seems to feel picked on by the media – originally by the Toronto Star (a feud that did not start two weeks ago but rather during his mayoral campaign), and now by the media at large. During his press conferences he absolutely refuses to address any question pertaining to anything outside the subject of the specific conference, and has been quoted calling the media ‘a bunch of maggots’ while refusing to speak to them on matters of obvious public interest.
There are many who are calling on Mayor Ford to step down, either temporarily (if he has a drug habit and is willing to deal with it) or permanently. As I said before as a resident of Oakville I do not have a vote, so I will not offer an opinion on this matter.
Mayor Ford and his brother (Councilor Doug Ford) host a weekly radio show on News Talk 1010 radio, the largest (not verified, but it seems pretty big) AM radio station in the region. The station’s signal can be heard as far east as Kingston and as far west as Brantford, as well as southwest into Niagara Falls (both Canadian and American sides). I have been a listener to that station since I moved from Montreal six years ago (before which I was a listener of its sister station, CJAD 800). The show, called The City, airs Sundays from 1-3pm.
I respect News Talk 1010 and their management and most of the shows, even though I do not agree with many of the hosts. There are times that I tune it out, but usually only when a particularly annoying commercial or that offensive person who does the restaurant reviews for dine.to comes on. As such I assume that they made a conscious decision to give Mayor and Councilor Ford their own show. I even respect the fact that they did not jump to any hasty kneejerk reactions as this scandal has unfolded. However it has gone on long enough… it is time to show their merit.
If the media is a bunch of maggots and the Mayor refuses to answer their questions – truly the questions of the citizens – then it is time to take his bully pulpit away. It is time for News Talk 1010 to take the Mayor off the air. They should not do it because of any scandal – and there have been plenty during his short tenure. They should do it because of the obvious disrespect he holds for the media. He refuses to answer their questions and yet News Talk 1010 turns around and gives him two hours of air time every week in which he controls the mic – the message, the callers he puts on the air, the whole ball of wax.
I admit that I do not listen to his show – I never had, and not because I like him or don’t like him. Many of you will remember that a year ago I posted a piece called Leave Mayor Ford Alone. I honestly feel that there are forces out to get him and who have been trying to sully his name for the last couple of years. I don’t listen because I don’t find it interesting radio. However I do listen to the rest of the station for at least ten hours every week, and am sick of hearing newscasts with him refusing to talk to the media, and then commercials for his show on the same media he refuses to address.
I do feel sorry for Mayor Ford – he has had a fight with both the media and with others since he took office and before, and has oftentimes not been treated well. However he chose a public life, and as such has a responsibility to the public which he must fulfill through the media. I cannot be the first person to observe that he has not been blameless in these fights. He just does not seem to know how to get along with others, does not seem to know the word compromise, and seems to think that his record can stand on its own. Well I have news for Mayor Ford, his record will be the least of his concerns if he truly does make an enemy of the entire media – what is the point of a successful record if nobody is willing to talk about it.
Should be step down as mayor of Toronto? I truly have no opinion, and I do consider it irresponsible journalism to report on a video that you cannot produce. Should he step down as a talk show host? Absolutely and immediately… and it can either be his choice or their choice, but he should have hosted his final show.