—Conrad Black’s asking price for a 2.8-acre parcel of property severed from his Bridle Path estate. (His actual house isn’t for sale; just a plot of land beside it.) This is the latest of many indignities for the former media magnate and convicted felon. Next up for Lord Black: possible sanctions from the Ontario Securities Commission.
Conrad Black was stripped of his Order of Canada status last week, but, about six weeks before that, he wrote governor general David Johnston about his case. On Monday, Black published the letter in the National Post. Like much of his writing, the missive is confusingly verbose. Here’s some help.
Your Excellency: Your heraldic officials have successfully litigated to prevent a hearing on the matter of my status as an Officer of the Order of Canada. I am reliably advised that it is the practice of the Advisory Board of that Order to approve the recommendations of staff whose adamant opposition to a hearing on this matter, which the Order’s rules would permit, together with the tone of their correspondence, makes their bias perfectly plain.
[Your Excellency: So, I heard you said no to a hearing.]
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Conrad Black was stripped of his Order of Canada membership late last week, but he doesn’t care, because he technically resigned before they could kick him out. Take that, Canada.
In a remarkable op-ed in today’s Post (meaning, remarkable by normal standards but totally expected from Black), the Lord spends 1,800 words trying to explain why this latest disgrace doesn’t actually matter. The argument hinges on the supposed inadequacies of the U.S. court system that convicted Black of fraud and obstruction of justice. He makes the American judges who handled his case out to be maybe slightly less corrupt than the officiants at a Soviet show trial.
According to a ZoomerMedia spokesperson, the new show, to be called Conversations With Conrad, will consist of extended interviews with the same types of political and media-world guests Black already interviews on his other ZoomerMedia show, The Zoomer, which is co-hosted by Denise Donlon. The new show will be all Conrad, all the time. It’s expected to begin airing on VisionTV in April or May.
What’s the world coming to when a former media baron can’t evade taxes in peace? A judge has ruled that Conrad Black owes previously unpaid taxes on about $5.1 million in income and benefits. That’s because the Lord was technically a resident of Canada (at least for tax purposes) in 2002. Black had argued that he wasn’t a Canadian resident at that time, meaning the money wouldn’t be taxable. According to the Star, the CRA hasn’t revealed how much Black will have to pay.
Black, who was readmitted to Canada in 2012 after a serving a multi-year U.S. prison sentence for fraud and obstruction of justice, has a few other legal proceedings on the go. The Ontario Securities Commission is thinking about banning him from trading securities and running public companies, and the Order of Canada is considering removing him from its ranks. It’s getting to the point where we’re starting to want to see him win one, for a change.
After rejecting Rob Ford‘s initial attempt at an apology, Star reporter Daniel Dale says he’ll drop his defamation lawsuit against the mayor following the release of a written follow-up apology on Wednesday night. Dale’s notice of libel called for an apology to be given “publicly, abjectly, unreservedly and completely,” and the two-page statement, endorsed but clearly not written by Ford, definitely meets those criteria.
Referring to Ford’s insinuation, during a televised interview with Conrad Black, that he had caught Dale lurking in his backyard, taking pervy pictures of his kids, the apology says:
Earlier today, we wondered if Rob Ford’s surprise apology to Star reporter Daniel Dale would be enough to head off the defamation lawsuit that Dale began pursuing late last week. Now, we have our answer. In a series of tweets posted this afternoon, Dale says Ford‘s remarks weren’t enough to fully make amends for the mayor’s suggestion, during an interview with Conrad Black, that Dale is a pedophile. The lawsuit will proceed.
In his apology, delivered during a city council meeting this morning, Ford tried to offer a rationale for what he said about Dale on Black’s TV show. It was a somewhat convoluted explanation, and it laid a portion of the blame on Ford’s neighbour, who (at least according to Ford) set off a now-legendary chain of events in May 2012 by alerting the mayor to Dale’s presence on a piece of public land adjacent to the Ford family backyard. Dale was investigating a story about the mayor’s attempt to buy a portion of that same public land.
Ford said his neighbour told him that a person was “peering over his fence,” taking pictures—which Dale was cleared of doing after a subsequent police investigation. “At that moment,” Ford said this morning as part of his apology, “I honestly believed my neighbour’s account of the events. I had no idea, at the time, who the person was my neighbour told me was leering over my fence.” He added that although he seemed to accuse Dale of spying on his children during the Black interview, it wasn’t his intention to suggest that the reporter was a pedophile.
Here’s what Dale had to say about that:
The feud between Conrad Black and Rosie DiManno is bad for newspaper readers, great for the dictionary industry
Conrad Black and Rosie DiManno have spent the past few days attacking each other in their respective newspaper columns, and it’s incredible. This is the media equivalent of Godzilla versus Mothra, except instead of body blows, both sides are hurling awkwardly written sentences.
Black and DiManno, more than any other journalists working in Toronto today, are known for over-elaborate prose. Black, in particular, likes using words that seem like they were pulled from a 19th-century thesaurus. DiManno, while not quite as prone to weird word choices, does have the distinction of having written what has been called the worst lede of all time. The pair’s latest feud—over Black’s softball interview with Rob Ford, during which Ford allegedly libelled Star reporter Daniel Dale—has brought out the worst in both of them. Here’s a sample of the invective, taken from Black’s December 14 Post column and DiManno’s response in today’s Star.
“As there is now the threat of legal action, ZoomerMedia will not be making a statement until such time as we can consult with our attorneys to consider the allegations and determine next steps.”
—ZoomerMedia, on its decision to stay silent after being served with a notice of libel by Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale. Zoomer is the parent company of Vision TV, the cable station that aired the Conrad Black interview with Rob Ford that started all of this. (A clip of the offending segment, in which Ford seems to insinuate that Dale is a pedophile, is embedded above.) A video of the interview was removed from Vision TV’s website the day after Monday’s broadcast, and the station has been refusing to talk to reporters all week. Black, meanwhile, has been trying unsuccessfully to defend his own role in the unfolding debacle. He isn’t named in Dale’s lawsuit, but Ford is.
It’s official: Star reporter Daniel Dale is going to sue Rob Ford over “pedophile” suggestion [UPDATED]
#robford reporter Daniel Dale will sue over the pervert accusation with the Toronto Star's full and complete support. Stand by.
— Michael Cooke (@TorStarEditor) December 12, 2013
It seems as though Rob Ford has earned himself another defamation lawsuit. (He’s 1-0 on these things, so far.) Daniel Dale—the Toronto Star reporter whose sexual proclivities Ford called into question during an interview with Conrad Black that aired on Monday—will apparently be taking the unusual step of suing the man whose mayoralty it’s his job to cover. Star editor Michael Cooke tweeted the news, but also told the Globe that his newspaper’s lawyers were at city hall on Thursday evening to serve the mayor with a notice of libel.
Now that Ford has been served, Dale has six weeks to file a more formal statement of claim, although the mayor and Vision TV have three days to respond to the libel notice, which is calling for a full retraction and apology from Ford and the station. “Part of the rationale is that if the mayor wished to apologize or retract the statements that gives him an opportunity,” said Dale’s lawyer, Iris Fischer of the firm Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP. The Toronto Star is paying Dale’s legal bills. “I’m not saying that would indicate what my client’s next step might be. I don’t know that at this point.”
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By now, pretty much everyone agrees that Conrad Black’s softball interview with Rob Ford was bad—except for Rob Ford himself, which makes the situation all the more worrying. Part of the problem was that his Lordship missed just about every opportunity to ask pertinent follow-up questions of the sort they teach you on the first day of journalism school. Follow-up questions are doubly important when the interview subject admits right off the bat that he or she has a tendency to lie about things, as Ford did.
One of the more egregious examples was when Ford made the completely unfounded assertion that the police chief Blair is motivated by a political agenda that could take down the mayor. Here, one would expect the interviewer to ask something along the lines of, “What makes you say that?” If that’s too difficult, a simple “huh?” would have done the trick.
It’s for this reason that Black deserved to get called out for the botched interview, and he did yesterday when he was interviewed on CBC’s As it Happens. He got called out hard.
“If I do take legal action, the Star’s got nothing to do with it. In fact, if I were a businessman or teacher or anything other than a Toronto Star reporter, I would have served Ford with a libel notice already.”
-Toronto Star city hall reporter Daniel Dale, on whether he’ll sue Mayor Rob Ford. The conflict stems from an interview between the mayor and Conrad Black, which aired Monday night on Vision TV. In response to a softball question about media excesses, Ford said: “Well, I guess the worst one was Daniel Dale in my backyard taking pictures. I have little kids. When a guy’s taking pictures of little kids, I don’t want to say that word, but you start thinking, ‘What’s this guy all about?’” Dale, along with many other people, has interpreted the comment as an allegation of pedophilia. Ford made the comment despite a police investigation that found that, on the day in question, Dale was actually in a park adjacent to the Ford’s property, researching a story about the mayor’s attempt to buy a parcel of public land.
Dale isn’t the only one at One Yonge Street issuing stern soundbites. Here’s Torstar chair John Honderich, speaking with the CBC: “It is a complete outrage. That’s all I can say. There seems to be no gutter deep enough to which this mayor will not stoop. He has made a very serious allegation against our reporter, who was doing his job.”
Last night, Vision TV aired an interview—or something resembling an interview—between Conrad Black and Rob Ford. Whatever it was, it made Peter Mansbridge’s softball-fest with the Ford brothers last month seem like waterboarding. As Black and Ford chummed it up, there were plenty of cringe-inducing moments. Here are six of the worst, with video clips to match.
It’s amazing, in a way, that Conrad Black and mayor Rob Ford hadn’t found themselves on camera together before last night. They have so much to talk about: treatment by various justice systems, being portrayed as cartoonish villains in the media, the ins and outs of maintaining a towering ego despite frequent humiliations, and so on.
There was some of that in Monday night’s interview with Ford on Black’s TV talk show, The Zoomer, but ultimately the segment was disappointing. Black lobbed softballs, which Ford batted away with stock responses. That’s not to say the interview didn’t manage to have disastrous moments for the mayor. Ford falsely implied that Star reporter Daniel Dale is a pedophile, possibly exposing himself to yet another lawsuit.
Here’s what people are saying about the whole weird mess, the video of which has curiously been removed from The Zoomer‘s website.
“It’s true what they say of Mandela. In all of our various conversations, there was never a word of acrimony, of rancour. I’d be ready to rhetorically kill all and any of his detractors, past and present, and he’d smile indulgently, treating me, in the gentlest of ways, as a disgruntled adolescent. I could never get over the kindness, the decency, the generosity with which he viewed the world. All the world.”
—Stephen Lewis, Canada’s former UN ambassador, writing of his personal connection with Mandela
“It’s so sad that he’s left us. But for us, it’s important that we can still celebrate his life.” Read the rest of this entry »
—Jeff Kugler, principal of Nelson Mandela Public School in Regent Park, where the teachers and students paid tribute last night
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