Toronto Star nervously reports that Rob Ford might sometimes be unpleasant

Toronto Star nervously reports that Rob Ford might sometimes be unpleasant

Councillor Rob Ford (Image: Shaun Merritt)

There’s an odd story in the Star this morning. Given a place of honour on the front page, the piece is tepidly headlined “‘Incident’ sidelined Rob Ford as coach,” and has “Star Exclusive” printed above it (the on-line version has a different title). Basically, the paper alleges that Rob Ford was asked to stop coming to a high school to coach football after “an incident” with a player. Somewhat shocking, we suppose, especially given how often Ford brags about his coaching while on the campaign trail. The problem is, the Star can’t quite make anything stick.

A sample:

Witnesses interviewed by the Star disagree on whether there was a physical confrontation between Ford and the student player.

Ford, one of his players and an assistant coach at the time deny any physical contact took place. But a parent and another player say Ford aggressively manhandled the student in anger.

The real surprise here is getting this kind of delicately couched writing from the same paper that has no-nonsense guys like Christopher Hume, who recently wrote that “as mayor, [Ford] would be a disaster and an embarrassment.” Reporting and opinion are two different things, sure, but it’s hard to believe that if the Star caught Ford dead to rights they wouldn’t be writing so preciously. Ford, for his part, is calling it a political hit and denying everything, saying that he left the school of his own accord.

It’s no secret that Ford has a temper or that he’s passionate about football coaching. The whole article is reminiscent of the 2008 New York Times piece that vaguely alleged that John McCain had an affair with a lobbyist. The NYT piece was roundly condemned for its sketchy sourcing. Now, as then, we wonder: if the paper had more, where is it?

• Rob Ford told he was unwelcome as a football coach at Toronto high school [Toronto Star]