Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Accused of Smoking Crack

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: You've likely heard the name Rob Ford. He's the mayor of Canada's largest city, Toronto, and he's got a gift for attracting bad publicity. He's been in hot water for, well, let's go down the listing: soliciting donations for his personal charity on the city hall letterhead, getting arrested on a DUI charge in Florida and denying it happened, and drunkenly berating some fans at a hockey game. But the latest allegation against Mayor Ford overshadows all that. This time it's a cellphone video that appears to show Ford smoking crack cocaine. Two reporters for the Toronto Star newspaper were shown the video. One of them is Robyn Doolittle. Robyn, tell us where this video came from.

Robyn Doolittle: About two months ago, the investigations editor, Kevin Donovan, and I wrote a story about Mayor Rob Ford's battle with alcohol and how he was asked to leave a military gala because individuals felt he appeared to be impaired. Shortly after that, I was contacted by a source who said that they claimed to have video of Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine and about two weeks ago Kevin and I viewed that video and we believe it indeed does show Mayor Rob Ford smoking something that appears to be crack cocaine.

Werman: Right. And you watched the video three times. Is it clear for you? I mean you cover Mayor Rob Ford. Is it clear for you that it's him in the video?

Doolittle: We were just in the backseat of a car, but watching it on an iPhone. We had no way to verify the video at that point, but what I can say is that we watched it three times. It was crystal clear. It appeared to be shot in HD. He was sitting in sunshine. To us it was very, very clear.

Werman: What did the people who had the video want?

Doolittle: The individual who contacted us about this was very clear from the beginning that they want a hundred thousand dollars. The Star was not prepared to pay this.

Werman: Has Mayor Ford made a statement about this video?

Doolittle: He spoke really briefly about this on Friday. He called it ridiculous, but he didn't give any sort of fulsome statement and he didn't really take questions about it. His brother Doug Ford, who is a Councillor, has spoken in some other local media saying that he's never seen his brother do anything like coke. He also questioned whether the idea of trying to sell the video is extortion.

Werman: I mean if anybody is going after Mayor Ford it might be the gossip website Gawker which has also seen this video. Now they're trying to raise money to buy it through a crowd-funding site and the campaign has been called "Crackstarter". It has already raised nearly ninety thousand dollars. What do you think of Gawker's efforts to get their hands on the video.

Doolittle: I mean I think there's a significant ethical question, certainly one of the concerns of the Star about paying a hundred thousand dollars for this. There's a huge public interest in the information being made public. On the other hand, do you want to give that much money to drug dealers? And the people who would be selling the video are self-identified drug dealers.

Werman: Robyn Doolittle, one of two reporters at the Toronto Star who have seen a video that appears to show the mayor of Toronto smoking crack. Robyn, thank you for your time

Doolittle: Thanks for having me.