In a lengthy post last night, Gawker editor John Cook revealed some bad news about the campaign to buy the Rob Ford crack video: the video’s owner says it’s “gone.” (He also added: “Leave me alone.”) Here, the five big takeaways from Cook’s play-by-play.
1. “Gone” doesn’t necessarily mean gone for good.
Cook doesn’t know whether the video has been destroyed, handed over to the Fords, seized by police or in the hands of Toronto Somali community leaders or a different media outlet. (We hope it’s the last option—maybe Toronto Star editor Michael Cooke was trying to hint at something on Monday?). The owner could also be lying to try to get a respite from relentless reporters, and it’s unclear whether there’s a second copy (the intermediary between Gawker and the owner originally said there was, although not in Toronto).
2. Gawker blames CNN…
Cook took another swipe at CNN for telling a former Ford staffer about the video in early May, which forced Gawker to publish its account for fear the Ford camp (or other media outlets) would scoop them. He says publishing “lit a match on this story that made it much more difficult—and maybe impossible—to get a deal done and bring the video to the light of day.”
3. …and the Toronto Star.
He also exacerbated his mini-feud with the Star, accusing the paper of giving away details that allowed others to identify the video’s owner, thereby making it even harder for to complete a confidential deal.
4. The Somali community pressured the owner not to sell.
Another Star faux pas: repeated and unnecessary references to the nationality of the drug dealers involved. The offended Somali ethnic community, which reportedly has ties to and supports Ford, put pressure on the owner to get rid of the clip.
5. In real life, $200,000 actually means $184,689,81.
Gawker raised $201,254 through its Indiegogo campaign, but subtracting $8,365.23 in PayPal fees, Indiegogo’s cut of $8,043.96, and $155 in unpaid contributions, that leaves just $184,689,81 for buying videos of politicians doing drugs. No wonder the seller decided to call it off.