Esquire profiles Rob Ford; nobody cares
When rumours began circulating that Chris Jones was working on a profile of Rob Ford, the idea seemed intriguing. Jones, who has won two U.S. National Magazine Awards for his work as a staff writer at Esquire, is a journalism heavyweight—and a Canadian to boot (he got his start at the National Post). Even so, his finished Ford piece, recently released online, landed—at least, locally—with a dull thud, partly because it contains no new details about the mayor’s life. In this post-Crazy Town world, no feature writer can come to the table without at least one new guns-and-drugs revelation to ante up.
Even so, the article is a nice recap of the Rob Ford drama, written for American readers who haven’t been as completely immersed in the story as Torontonians. Here are a few things we noticed as we read through.
1. The whole thing seems to have been written before the Steak Queen incident
One of the challenges inherent in writing long-form stories about Ford’s mayoralty is that the mayor generates news on a near-daily basis. Any attempt to sum up his misadventures is out of date almost immediately, and Jones seems to have struggled with this as much anyone. The entire piece is crafted as a sort of post-scandal reflection, and it quotes Ford talking about his new commitment to sobriety, which we now know was extremely short-lived. The mayor’s newest batch of public-intoxication scandals gets only a half-sentence mention.
2. The one-liner descriptions of city hall’s cast of characters are weird
One jarring thing about the story is how critical Jones is of Toronto city council as a whole. Toronto Centre councillor Pam McConnell gets called “gnomish,” which comes off as a cruel and unnecessary jab at her appearance. The whole of city council, meanwhile, is a “dysfunctional clusterfuck of preening, insufferable, small-time careerists.” Sure, it’s one man’s opinion, but the same could be said of almost any political establishment. Language like that evinces a whole lot of cynicism, and it’s a little strange to see it in Esquire, instead of on, say, the editorial page of a conservative tabloid.
3. The rest of the world doesn’t care about the politics
Like most U.S. news stories about Ford, this one doesn’t dwell on the mayor’s actual political record so much, except to say that “the city budget has, in fact, been slashed by hundreds of millions of dollars during his tenure,” which is debatable. Regardless, Jones concludes that the real source of Ford’s political power is his complete lack of shame, and that’s a claim that definitely rings true.