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An open letter to Jimmy Kimmel regarding his time with Rob Ford

(Image: Jimmy Kimmel Live!/Screenshot)

(Image: Jimmy Kimmel Live!/Screenshot)

Toronto is still deciding what to think about Rob Ford’s Monday-night appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Here, Jon Sufrin writes an open letter to the late-night host.

Dear Mr. Kimmel,

Thank you for owning Toronto mayor Rob Ford on your show last night. We thought maybe you’d go soft on him, like pretty much everyone else on television has, but you didn’t.

It’s easy to forget that in addition to being joke fodder, the mayor is also a serious problem for Toronto. You dealt with that right away. When Ford tried to pull his whole “maybe you’re perfect” tactic, you shut him down immediately. You even called him out on his tendency to fudge numbers. And somehow, you managed to address his perceived homophobia and his fashion sense at the same time (“Do you think if you had more gay friends you would not wear that tie?”).

Thank you for forcing him to stand in front of millions of people and bear witness to his own buffoonery. It was awkward in the best kind of way. We’re not sure that you needed to replay all of those moments—his botched football hike is irrelevant at this point, and it’s probably a little cheap to revisit—but it was satisfying to watch him claim that he couldn’t remember who he was threatening during his inebriated death rant. We’ve seen our mayor’s face go red plenty of times, but you had him at magenta.

You did throw out a lot of low blows. That little trap you set up for him, documenting whether he’d eat his veggies or his dessert backstage, was unnecessary. Fat jokes are cheap. And you probably didn’t need to juxtapose bad photos of our mayor with nice photos of yours—it came off as vitriolic, and it distracted from the real issues. Ford supporters will probably latch onto that as further proof that he’s a somehow a victim in all of this, but your heart-to-heart with him at the end of the interview, when you encouraged him to seek help, was endearing, and it balanced out some of your cheap shots.

We’re not sure what the lasting political effects of the interview will be. It will probably benefit Ford in the long run, like everything seems to do. But for a few moments, Rob Ford—the juvenile football jock who bullies everyone—got bullied himself. In the final tally, you did good, Mr. Kimmel. Now if only we could find a TV personality in our own country who could stand up to the guy.