With Gawker saying that they’ve lost touch with the owners of the video and may now not be in a position to use the almost $200 000 that they’ve raised, be prepared for the Ford supporters to grunt something about this all being a baseless hoax. Perhaps that is true, but it is far from the most likely explanation.
1. The $100 000 or even $200 000 that was the asking price for the video is not really a large amount of money for media giants to cough up, when it comes right down to it. Reluctance to buy it was probably more the possibility of choking on it due to the accusations of supporting drug dealers. However a very plausible scenario is one where other media companies, less concerned about that perception, like the National Enquirer for example, will already have snatched up the video while Gawker is trying to crowd source the money. Or the Toronto Star itself might have secretly bought the video and is sitting on it until they can either release it or leak it. Or perhaps it was purchased by someone other than a media outlet for the purposes of either protecting or even blackmailing the mayor (-the latter of these being somewhat concerning). Any one of these would be reasonable, predictable scenarios under the circumstances, just as feasible as the theory that the whole thing has been hoax.
2. Testimony from witnesses is regarded as real evidence in a court of law. Even if the video has been destroyed, you have two sets of two reporters independently corroborating its contents. If it were just Star reporters, one could possibly although meagerly argue that it is all part of a conspiracy to tarnish the mayor. However, the second set of witnesses makes that unlikely.
3. The mayor’s silence being viewed as a legal tactic would be more convincing if his behaviour wasn’t so suspicious and unprofessional in recent days. A statement could be made in a way that creates political confidence, even if it were just saying that he’s refraining to answer specific question on the advice of his attorneys. Hiding in the corner of an elevator and sending his brother out to make a long, mostly unrelated speech about the mayor’s accomplishments will only breed more uncertainty. While the mayor may claim that he is being badgered by the media, that badgering is the result of his refusal to address a very significant issue. The people of Toronto have the right to know why their mayor is implicated in such serious matters.
4. Rob Ford was let go from his coaching position with his lauded football team. ( A team which, incidentally, he is accused of slurring in the mysterious video, not to mention ignorantly in public speeches.) While the decision has been in works for a while and is not thought to be in any way related to the current accusations, it is still curious that the school and the school board found it necessary to distance themselves from the mayor for the “best interests of the students”. “Catholic trustee Maria Rizzo endorsed the board’s decision, saying Ford does not “model appropriate behaviour” for students.” It is also curious that this is the second time that this has happened.
5. Finally, Mark Towhey, Mayor Ford’s Chief Of Staff, was fired yesterday, reportedly for telling the mayor to “go away and get help”, specifically in the form of rehab treatment. The mayor’s office wants it to look like the disagreement was over Towhey’s urging of Ford’s staff not to get involved in a proposed party at the Mayor’s home for his football team (even after they dumped him), but it is clear that the issues were much broader. Towhey is quoted as saying, “There’s no more I can do for you.”
In spite of all that, Ford supporters are still wanting to hang on to their misguided beliefs, like the Creationist who dismisses all scientific evidence because they just can’t believe that the Earth wasn’t created 8 000 years ago. There are comments under news stories like, “So where’s the video? Just another witch-hunt without a shred of proof…yawn.” Or, “So far it looks like anonymous tips and guessing presented as news.” Such desperation to avoid having to admit you’re wrong! Eye witnesses and suspicious photographs are not anonymous tips. The firing of a valued Chief of Staff is not guessing. The dismissal from a coaching job as a decision about “what is best for our students”, is not a witch hunt. One can’t help but wonder where these yahoos are going to go and hide if and when this all blows up. Even if some of it proves to be false or exaggerated, it is the role of the news media to fervently pursue stories involving the competence of our elected officials. I have no problem with pressuring the mayor to respond to serious allegations. Better that than to allow the free reign of corrupt or incompetent politicians.
The writing is on the wall, whether the Ford Nation likes it or not.