Rob Ford attempts to tell truth, fumbles, and ultimately appears less sympathetic after 22 Minutes ambush
Okay, the tale of Rob Ford and This Hour Has 22 Minutes has become decidedly unfunny. The news this week that Ford called 911 after Mary Walsh ambushed him at his home seemed pretty laughable at first, but we were somewhat sympathetic—maybe because we understand some public figures consider their home off-limits, maybe because one of Ford’s children was allegedly involved, or maybe because of those death threats. But then we saw footage of the event and changed our minds. In the larger media world, not surprisingly, Ford’s usual defenders are rushing to his side, and Ford’s usual opponents are roundly castigating him. Yet we think there’s a little more to this than the standard ideological saber rattling.
The National Post’s Kelly McParland has more (from the decidedly pro-Ford side):
Lots of people are mad at [Ford], since he’s not the most polished guy in the world and he hasn’t exactly been diplomatic while pursuing his promise to chop the massive city budget and eliminate a spending gap measured in the hundreds of millions. The local papers treat him like some lame-brained buffoon who stumbled into city hall while trying to avoid a Pride parade.
So maybe he did in fact realize his attacker was just an actor and he wasn’t really under threat, and maybe he just didn’t feel like going along. Mary Walsh has unleashed her Marg character on lots of other politicians, though generally during the work day when they’re on their political rounds, not on the front lawn at 8 a.m. They usually react in one of two ways: they either spot the character and play along, making it all very jolly and a bit boring, or they don’t get the joke and are a bit cool. People must like it, because they’ve been doing it for years.
Either way, Ford wasn’t up for the gag. Can’t really say I blame him. Politicians aren’t game animals; you can’t just hide in the woods and fire at will.
These are all fair points. McParland also devotes some space to the image of Ford as an everyman: someone who still drives himself around town, goes to football games and is “a big, overweight guy with a brush cut and a big round face, who is easy to make fun of.” Of course, the mayor’s supporters probably would have made these points whether or not Ford tried to defend himself (the Toronto Sun’s Joe Warmington even called the CBC stunt a coordinated effort by lefties to discredit the mayor).
What’s strange about the whole brouhaha, though, is that Ford couldn’t just tell the truth about the whole scenario and let his fanboys (and fangirls) in the press back him up. In his statement, Ford said it was dark when he was ambushed when it clearly wasn’t, and Walsh is disputing the mayor’s claim that his daughter was present. Plus, after watching the clip, it’s difficult to not to find Ford’s reaction was just a wee bit melodramatic.