Here’s one for the journalism classes in this city: a Facebook post alleges that, while driving in Toronto, a woman and her child saw Mayor Rob Ford talking on his cellphone. When they gave him the thumbs-down for violating regulations of the Ontario Highway Act, the mayor allegedly responded in a way that wasn’t appropriate for a man styled “His Worship.” And then the Toronto Star ran an article about it.
Here’s the sordid story:
Mason said Ford responded by giving her the finger.
“I’m shocked. I had to drive around the block to calm down,” said Mason, who was dropping off her daughter’s babysitter in the Kensington Market area. The 43-year-old woman corroborated the sequence of events.
Ford didn’t roll his window down, Mason said.
The mayor’s office would not comment, nor [would it] confirm whether the incident happened.
First, allow us a minute for a quick and hearty chuckle over this one. But then a question: is an unverified Facebook post (though today the mayor issued a tweet calling the situation a “misunderstanding”—whatever that means) sufficient grounds for a story in one of the country’s biggest dailies? Clearly, we’re long past the point of reporting things like the reaction on Twitter to big events (like yesterday’s announcement by Jack Layton). But this one goes beyond taking the public temperature; this is a specific allegation about a specific public person. Mason, of course, is welcome to share whatever she wants on her Facebook wall—but we’re a little less sure about the credibility of the Star on this one.
It’s worth noting that in the paper’s, um, enthusiasm for stories that paint Ford in an unflattering light has led them astray in the past, including the sketchy story about Ford’s time as a football coach. At the time we wondered, “If the paper had more, where is it?” Now we’re left wondering if there’s really any more to find.