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Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Toronto Star's battle against democracy discredits journalism

First they lied about him repeatedly. Then they tried, and failed, in every effort to prevent Rob Ford from winning Toronto's mayoral race in 2010. Since then, The Toronto Star has been relentless in its campaign to discredit Ford. What The Star's editors don't realize is that rather than discrediting Ford, they have managed to discredit themselves and have irreparably harmed the Toronto public's confidence in journalism in general.

If you were to believe what you read in The Star, the city is in chaos and goings-on at City Hall are in total disarray, all because of their allegations about Rob Ford having allegedly smoked crack cocaine.

The Star is lying to you.

I was at City Hall myself on Tuesday. Other than the press acting like a gang of paparazzi, it's business as usual there. Permits are being issued as always, civic matters are being attended to as they have been before the recent media drummed-up outrage. At a meeting of the City's Executive Committee chaired by Ford which I attended, the mayor acted like a consummate professional. He was polite and effective, and not once was he jonesing for a hit of crack, despite any impression The Star might like you to have.

There was nothing resembling chaos.

Permits are being sold, municipal employees are doing their jobs, the sewers are running, street lights are working, the water is being purified, Council is dealing with public matters.

But were The Toronto Star to be believed, the world is falling apart, democracy should be suspended and a national emergency declared.

Yesterday an article published in The Star, they were adulating a Liberal politician they adore, who clearly appears to have been engaged in corruption in public affairs, in order to malign one whom they allege, without substantiation, has a personal problem.

Because The Star is more interested in undermining Rob Ford, whose values they detest, than they are in serving the public interest or telling the truth.

In the article, titled: Rob Ford video scandal: Premier Kathleen Wynne, city councillors grapple with fallout, the Star put forward this incredible statement:
Premier Kathleen Wynne said Wednesday she would like to see Ford deal with his “personal” issues sooner rather than later, but shied away from saying the province was prepared to step in.
Evidently The Star reporters asked the Premier if the Province was prepared to step in to remove Ford as mayor.

"The Province was prepared to step in"?!??

On the basis of what? Toronto Mayor Ford has not even been charged with a crime, let alone been convicted of one. But The Toronto Star expects Kathleen Wynne to undo a democratic election based on unproven allegations from a media outlet with demonstratively malicious motives against Ford.

Clearly The Star's editors think their will supersedes trivial things like due process of law, democracy, and free elections.

Another Star article made the charge that Ford had illegally ordered emails of City staff to be destroyed. An article they had to quickly revise when it became public from other news outlets that Ford had not made any such request or attempt.

But The Star's rush to publish lies based on rumor, innuendo and unverified reports was irresistible when those lies were about Rob Ford.

When it comes to the illegal destruction of government correspondence, it was Kathleen Wynne and her predecessor as Premier, Dalton McGuinty whom,  it has just emerged, are guilty of this serious transgression and betrayal of public trust.

Yet is there any front page headline about this major scandal in today's Toronto Star?

Of course not! Just more about Rob Ford.

Because the Toronto Star has an agenda. But when it comes to Rob Ford,  journalist integrity and truth aren't part of it.


Anonymous said...

"it's business as usual there."

Hilariously, in the hour since you wrote this two more Ford staffers have quit.

Richard K said...

Yeah? So that`s driving the city into chaos how exactly?

What a load of crap. A bunch of unproven allegations and Ford`s enemies show their true colors - no respect for democracy at all when it doesn`t go the way they like.

Anonymous said...

"A bunch of unproven allegations"

So why are the staffers quitting then? Go ahead and nail your credibility to Ford's mast if you want but anyone with half a brain can tell where this is heading.

Richard K said...

You's make a great reporter for the Toronto Star - on the basis of exactly nothing in the way of hard evidence, you've reached a conclusion and are ready to convict.

Anonymous said...

On the basis of nothing? 4 staffers have quit and 1 was fired. Do you honestly believe Ford when he claims it was because they had opportunities elsewhere? If you do then you're a bigger fool than I thought.

Richard K said...

Yeah, like I said, that's hard evidence of exactly nothing. No wonder you're anonymous - a cretin like you has good reason not to want to be known publicly.

Anonymous said...

Cretin? I'm not the one siding with the crackhead.

Anonymous said...

Richard, thinking obviously isn't your strong suit so I'm going to try to walk you through this.

First of all, when Rob Ford says that four staffers have quit in the past week because they've been giving "new opportunities", is that a believable statement?

Richard K said...

Someone with your obvious intellectual deficits, and obsessive nature - you've spent more time on my blog from your York U computer than I have in the last two days - shouldn't act so condescending.

But since following an argument evidently isn't your strong suit, let me redirect you - should a person who hasn't been charged with a crime, nor has any criminal convictions in office, nor charged with a breech of the public trust be removed from office?

I expect, since it's Rob Ford we're discussing, your answer would be yes. But flouting any due process on the basis of circumstantial evidence, or just on the basis of their own biases and prejudice is the sort of thing Stalinists love to do, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

It seems you couldn't make it through the question the first time I posted. I guess your lips got tired. Let's try again: When Rob Ford says that four staffers have quit in the past week because they've been giving "new opportunities", is that a believable statement?

Unknown said...

Here's the thing, Richard. I don't remember you ever decrying anonymously sourced news stories when they hurt liberals. It's more than a little unseemly to pull that tactic when they're used against your guy.

Moreover, multiple staff resignations in a short period of time are important in that they indicate that there's a loss of faith in the mayor's credibility among those closest to him. And I'm pretty sure that if Obama's senior staff were deserting him, you'd be spinning it precisely that way.

And despite the assertion that "there is no video," there are multiple stories out there that indicate that both Ford and his senior staff not only believed that there is one, but that they knew where it was. That further goes to Ford's credibility.

If there's no credible evidence of a crime, why were the police interviewing the senior staff? So far as I know, there are no allegations that the Ford family is being extorted.

Finally, this "battle against democracy" talking point is nothing short of silly. While I wouldn't personally support the province's potential removal of Ford, if the law allows for it, it is by definition democratic.

After all, the province is a constitutionally recognized entity and the city isn't.

Didn't Margaret Thatcher abolish municipal governments during her tenure? And isn't Michigan governor Rick Snyder currently "overturning democratic elections" regularly by appointing "emergency managers?"

It's a cute talking point, but it has no basis in reality.

Richard K said...

Let me explain something to you that is evidently outside your knowledge base.

Your question is immaterial. If you had any experience in public service,or in major corporate affairs, you'd know that the statement Ford issued is pretty much the standard statement whenever a high profile person quits for some difference of opinion or is fired.

Whether or not it is believable is entirely irrelevant to the issue at hand. Try not to melt down too hard processing all this, if in fact processing it is even within your capabilities.

Want to take a shot at my question, or is that too hard for you?

Richard K said...

Skippy, the comment above was meant for the anonymous commenter - I`ll get to yours soon

Richard K said...

Ok Skippy, first of all, all the stuff you`re mentioning is still based on unsubstantiated reports.

I know you hate Ford, because you`ve made that point often, but there is absolutely no basis for removing someone because the media is calling for it.

There has to be a due process and I`ve seen nothing even close to that commencing here. The stuff you`re saying is speculative and based in large measure on Toronto Star reports. They have proven themselves to be biased and wrong in their reporting about Ford to the extent that their reports on him lack credibility.

Everything, and I mean everything in the Star and Globe stories in the last week is based on uncredited sources, which makes it pretty unreliable.

I`ve worked in film and have been at the studios of plenty of special effects people. Anyone who says a video of Ford smoking crack can`t be faked doesn`t know what they`re talking about.

But in either case, no, I would not be saying Obama has to resign because he was accused of something that was unproven and some of his senior staff had resigned. (Incidentally, I`m of mixed feelings about Obama - I`m not as opposed to him as you appear to think I am, though I have serious concerns about a number of his policies.)

And finally, whether or not I`ve decried anonymous stories about Liberals - I`m not quite sure to which stories you`re referring- I have never said that due process should be discarded because of them. (I`m not sure if you meant big or small `L` and it`s not actual small `l` ones that bother me, and as it happens I like quite a few big `L` ones too. You may have noticed, I was quite supportive of Marc Garneau, but I digress...)

Unknown said...

I actually haven't said that he should be removed in this case. I do think he should the honourable thing and commit suicide, but I never get what I want.

As a matter of fact, I was also against the idea of recalls, which Ford was for until he won.

But the fact remains that laws in multiple democratic jurisdictions do allow for the removal of democratically elected officials at lower levels of government, as I cited in the cases of Thatcher and Snyder, both conservatives. In fact, Ford himself has been supportive of that himself in the past.

I'll give you another example that's similar to Rob Ford's: former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick was under indictment for perjury in his sexting scandal and Governor Granholm - another Democrat - begain removal proceedings against him. The mayor hadn't yet been convicted, but that was immaterial to the governing Michigan law, which I suspect is in line with Ontario's.

In my opinion, you're confusing administrative law with criminal law. And again, I don't support removing Ford under these circumstances. His total humiliation is enough for me.

But I;m not the one saying that Ford is willing to face the public in an election, when he could have one tomorrow by resigning.

Anonymous said...

The government should refer the issue to a legislative committee with subpoena powers to call Ford and his current and former staff to testify on the record. That will allow us to have named people go on the record with what they saw or heard rather than leaking to the press anonymously. As a bonus, the Fords will be stupid enough to lie and then they can be charged, tried and convicted for perjury, removed from office and put in jail.

Problem solved.

Richard K said...

Well, Ford isn't under indictment for anything as of now. I understand the difference between Administrative and Criminal - my point is that everything right now has gone no further than unattributed, unproven and largely speculative allegations.

The fact that they are being made by a newspaper with a vendetta against Ford, and has a history of publishing false stories about him is a far cry from the need to commence removal proceedings.

And if there was justification for an investigation that could lead to sanctions, then let's please see one for Wynne's Liberal government that lied and effectively stole at least $500 million from the taxpayers for their party's gain with the Gas plant cancellations.

And I'm glad you're content with Ford being embarrassed, Skippy.

However I feel compelled to note, what you and a number of others might find embarrassing or humiliating is just water off a duck's back, so to speak, for Ford.

And don't rule out his being re-elected either. So far, there's no effective opposition. Amalgamated Toronto is a lot more than the NDP stronghold of the old City south of Bloor. If Chow is silly enough to give up her cushy MP job to go for Mayor, there's enough stuff she'll have to deal with about her own issues that her head will be spinning before it's over.

Unknown said...

My point is that Hizzoner doesn't need to be charged with anything to be removed. As a purely constitutional matter, the city exists at the pleasure of the province.

I also find it hard to believe that you'd feel this way if the tables were turned.

Imagine if a hypothetical Premier Hudk were presented with such a case against a hypothetical Mayor Smitherman. I doubt that you'd be protesting this loudly, which is why Ford supporters keep comparing Smitherman's drug use as a camera shop owner to Ford's as a chief executive.

And where exactly are these false stories in the Star about Ford? Do you honestly believe that One Yonge is actually determined to expose itself to a crippling libel judgement>

Remember also that we live in the most plaintiff friendly jurisdiction in the Western Hemisphere. You can't exactly bitch about Richard Warman while suggesting that El Robbo has no recourse at all.

I don't like our libel laws, but I can hardly pretend that they don't exist.

Furthermore, the stories aren't speculative. The stories are now coming from Etobicoke Slim's current and former staff. It might be Ford's people are lying, but I doubt that the Star is inventing the quotes.

If the mayor's staff believes there a there there, it seems fair for everyone else to. And even the retards at the Sun have repeated the Star's reporting. are they in the bag, too? How about the Globe? The National Post?

And I don't see any correlation between Ford's alleged crack use and the cancellation of the gas plants. While sleazy, unethical and wrong, McGuinty's cancellations were legal.

In fact, you can say that he was rewarded by the people in carrying the five targeted ridings. And if Tim Hudak wasn't the dumbest motherfucker I've ever seen up close and blew a fifteen point lead, none of this would be an issue because Wynne wouldn't be in office.

One is criminal and the other isn't. Also, I don't recall the provincial Liberals ever advocating an unconstitutional internal exile, not seen since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, for cancelling a contract.

As for Hizzoner's stoicism, I'm just not getting that vibe yet. Full disclosure was never his thing as much as getting his shithead brother to blame everybody else is. Threatening to expose the cocaine use of various journalists implies that this is anything but "water off of his back."

Finally, I think you're crazy not to fear Chow. Her polling is exceptionally good, considering she's never done anything except ride her dead husband's coattails.

There's also the fact that snap election clears the field for Chow and Tory, the only two candidates with the money and organization to go right now.

With his current polling, Ford's re-election is entirely dependent on liberals being liberals and dividing their own vote. If that doesn't happen, he's done.

And to paraphrase the incumbent, the Orientals might work their hearts out - like dogs, even - to elect one of their own and take over. I suspect that you'll see Olivia speaking in Cantonese a lot in North York and northern Scarborough.

Richard K said...

The Star stories about Ford hitting that high school football player were complete BS.

As to the rest, we're talking about a lot of hypotheticals.

And yes, Olivia may campaign effectively in Cantonese, but in English, she's not so good. And I don't think the Chinese community in this city is a) large enough to get Chow over the top, or b) likely to vote for someone like her en masse throughout the city. The Chinese community still holds on, as a whole, to (small c) conservative, capitalist values, and the widow of Vladimir Lenin may not have such appeal to many of them.

Plus, like I said, if she runs, wait and see what comes out about her. And her soft base isn't as forgiving or as solid as Ford's.

This'll play out as it plays out, but don't be too shocked if Ford not only rides this out, but is back in office after the 2014 election.

Unknown said...

The Toronto Public School Board certainly didn't think so. As a matter of fact, the only places that will let Ford coach now are home schoolers and sharia institutions.

I'm fascinated by these dark intonations of "wait and see what comes out about" Chow. Could it be that there are "unsubstantiated", "hypothetical" claims about her being held in reserve?

Wouldn't that be the same sort of thing that you're constantly bitching about when used against your guy?

That's the problem with your indignation, Richard. It seems to be a moving target.

It's an outrage to use "hypothetical, unsubstantiated" claims against Ford to the point that it's a war on democracy or something equally dumb. but perfectly acceptable to use as a tactic against Ford's enemies.

And that's fine. I understand how politics works better than most.

But don't pretend that you don't forfeit your right to moral indignation when you do it. It's unbecoming, especially for someone of your intelligence. Most of Ford Nation is functionally retarded and obvious double-standards escape them, but you don't have that excuse.

I don't want this to sound like an apologia for Olivia Chow, mostly because I can't stand her and I have no idea what you're alleging that she's done.

But I do believe in principle and consistency. For most of my life, I believed that we were better than liberals, both intellectually and morally.

I can't do that anymore. Our side is now firmly on the record as saying that sending cock shots over Twitter is disqualifying, but smoking crack isn't. And remember that when this story broke, you didn't care if Ford was actually getting high.

We're fucked because we don't actually stand for anything any more. Too many of bitch about the Obama stimulus, while celebrating Stephen Harper, who not only spent more more money per capita than Obama, but spends millions more advertising it on television five years after the fact.

When people call us on our our bullshit, we resort to hysterical conspiracy theories, usually involving a Left that we say that no votes for and a media that no one pays attention to.

We're not winning - when we do - on the basis of our own ideas. We're winning because the Left hates each other more than they hate us. But we engage in the same retarded tribalism that they do, but we're worse because they at least aren't shy about admitting it.

Two Packs said...

Her English is better than Chretien's and her Ball's Palsy is less severe (better now than your picture suggests) and he won almost ever riding in Toronto. You forget than about half the people in Toronto have accents.

Two Packs said...

As for Ford, the way he's going he'll likely be dead - either of a heart attack or shot in some drug deal gone bad - long before election day.

Unknown said...

As for your electoral prognostications, they're problematic at best.

Ford hasn't been close to 50% approval since taking office and he's been as low as 25. And that 25% will vote for him regardless of what he does. He could feed on the entrails of a freshly aborted fetus and the Sun and too many bloggers would figure out a way to argue that they kid was asking for it.

However an average approval rating in the mid to high thirties is no way to win a head-to-head election.

Ford needs a divided opposition to win. While I suspect that he'll get it, and very likely prevail (unless John Tory jumps in,) that doesn't speak well to Hizzoner's political strengths. It just means that the Left is dumber than we are.

All things being equal, a Ford victory might be my preferred outcome.

Etobicoke Slim has absolutely no credibility with Council, and he isn't likely to have coat-tails in the next election.

Ford's agenda is dead on arrival because anyone with brains knows that it's lunatic nonsense.

But like conservatives everywhere, predicting a Ford victory is wholly dependant on the idea that Left doesn't get it's shit together and unify behind a single candidate.

If they do, the Fords will be relegated to sucking on their father's tit again, and won't have the resources to get the city to fix the fucking sidewalk before company parties.

I've said over and over again that Ford could very well win the next election, but let's not pretend that a 37% victory that carries no allies to Council is anything resembling a mandate.

Richard K said...

Hey Skippy, these blogger comments aren't like Disqus, so I'll have to reply to the last pair here.

Indignation may be a literally accurate way of describing what I'm expressing but in actual terms, I'm not as outraged as the word suggests.

As to the stuff about Chow, I haven't written that there is anything that would legally preclude her from being mayor - just stuff that will look bad in an election. And when it comes out, if I write about it, it will be totally verifiable, as opposed to the stuff coming out in the Star and Globe.

In reality, these blog comments we're exchanging are going to be seen possibly by a few dozen, maybe a few hundred, at at the very most a few thousand people, so they are hardly going to, nor are they intended to bring up charges or innuendo.

I don't think it's controversial to say stuff is going to emerge in any election involving millions of constituents that will be used to politically embarrass a major candidate.

That said, Chow is vulnerable. But my position is anything but, she shouldn't run. Quite the opposite - bring it on (as a figure of speech - not that I'm accusing you of being a partisan for her).

I think we're going in circles a bit here. I know how you feel about Ford and you and I, if I recall correctly, shared a lot of the same views about his predecessor.

For me, it boils down to my belief that he is doing a decent job, and would be doing an even better one if the hyenas at the Star would let him get on with it.

I know you disagree.

My other impetus in this is that I cannot think of another viable candidate who is likely to run to replace him that wouldn't be an absolute disaster.

Oh, and Two Pack - it's not the accent that's the problem, it's what she says and her uninspiring delivery.

No one can take away from the fact that Chretien, whom I actually liked back in the day when he opposed John Turner for the Liberal leadership, had plenty of charisma when he was 'on.' And a genuine affinity for connecting with people.

I've said this before - on a personal level, Olivia is a sweetie. But as a politician, the performance leaves plenty to be desired.