Our scandal-plagued mayor continues to fascinate the U.S. press.
Mayor Rob Ford’s crack scandal has been working the edges of the major New York news magazines practically from the moment Gawker broke the story. New York magazine’s Daily Intelligencer blog has been following developments closely and the New Yorker had an online-only article last week. Now Time magazine has joined in.
The article, by a congressional correspondent named Jay Newton-Small, was published online earlier today. (It’s unclear whether a version will appear in the print edition.) Let’s talk about the interesting part of the piece, and then we’ll get into all the factual errors.
First of all, the writer deserves credit for eliciting this A+ quote from Adrienne Batra, a former Rob Ford press secretary who now works as an editor at the Toronto Sun:
“During my time on his campaign and in the mayor’s office, I probably knew where he was about 50% of the time…He’d just disappear and you’d ask him where he was and he’d say, ‘Oh, around town.’”
What Batra seems to be saying is that Mayor Ford’s office absenteeism, now a well-documented phenomenon, was already a problem for staffers during the 2010 mayoral campaign, and during Ford’s earliest days in office. We might have assumed this to be the case, but now we have someone credible saying it on the record.
The rest of the piece aims to be a sort of high-level survey of Ford’s time as mayor as it relates to the current scandal. But, like other U.S. takes on Ford before it, it gets some things wrong. Among them are the following.
- Ford is called “the first mayor to hail from Toronto’s suburbs,” which would probably be news to Mel Lastman.
- The article says Ford denied “ever using crack cocaine,” when in fact what he said at his May 24 press conference was, “I do not use crack cocaine.”
- Ford is said to own a “manicured mansion,” when in fact he lives in what amounts to a ranch house. (His mom’s house, where he holds his annual public party, might qualify as a mansion—but only barely.)
- “A court in December threw him out of office for using mayoral letterhead to raise money for his gridiron charity,” the article says. Judge Hackland’s decision was actually released in November, and the reasons for the ouster went way beyond letterhead.
- The article says Ford’s “alleged intoxication at a military ball in March spawned a spate of embarrassing stories,” which is true except for the fact that the ball in question happened in February.
- Also, there’s a reference to Doug Ford calling Rob “Canada’s Sarah Palin” during the 2010 campaign. That comparison seems to have come from the mayor himself, after a Star reporter suggested it to him.
If you spot anything else, let us know in the comments.